13 Stories That Matter to Me

Each of these short stories, written by master storytellers, are a writer’s playground for learning about narrative technique and art. I’ve read them, studied them, stole from them, and been in awe of them from my first readings. If you want a reading list of classic short stories to learn from, this is a good start.

  1. Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” from various sources.
  2. Anton Chekhov’s “Gustav,” from Collected Stories.
  3. Katherine Ann Porter’s “The Judas Tree,” from Collected Stories.
  4. Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” from book of same name.
  5. Saul Bellow’s “The Silver Dish,” from Him with His Foot in Mouth.
  6. John Cheever’s “The Trouble with Marcie Flint,” from Collected Stories.
  7. Barry Hannah’s “Testimony of Pilot,” from Airships.
  8. Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story,” from The Things They Carried.
  9. Padgett Powell’s “The Winnowing of Mrs. Schuping,” from Typical.
  10. Lorrie Moore’s “You’re Ugly, Too,” from Like Life.
  11. Isaac Babel’s “The Story of the Dovecot,” from Collected Stories.
  12. Peter Taylor’s “The Old Forest,” from collection of same name.
  13. Frank O’Connor’s “Guest of Nations,” from Collected Stories.
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