This week, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories in preparation for a course that I’ll be teaching in the summer called Survey of Fiction. So, I thought I’d pick some of my favorite short stories, several that I regularly teach, for this week’s book list.
1. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin’s stories usually deal with a woman unhappy in her marriage, stuck in a culture that granted little rights to women. These early (first wave) feminist works capture a great deal of longing and feature a deeply sympathetic female protagonist. “The Story of an Hour” is beautifully crafted, ingenious in its plotting, and filled with surprises.
2. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
The Hitchcockian susupense and gothic horror of this story greatly appeals to my students. I like the way Faulkner brilliantly reorganizes the plot to create a more compelling tale.
3. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry
I like reading this story at Christmas since it’s a great reminder of the right heart for giving gifts. It’s about sacrifice and giving for a specific, unique individual.
4. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
O’Connor is a new discovery for me, so I’ve only recently been delving into her work, but I think this story best represents her style. I reviewed this one a couple weeks ago, so I won’t elaborate too much. But basically, it’s about a woman who finds grace only when she’s in the process of being murdered. I’m noticing that I like a lot of Gothic stories. I wonder what that says about me?
5. “Battle Royal,” by Ralph Ellison
This is a slightly different choice because it’s actually the first chapter from a novel, but it’s also a stand alone story, which was published prior to the novel. Personally, after reading the novel (The Invisible Man), I think that it’s the best part of the book. It’s jam packed with metaphors and symbolism, representing African Americans’ struggle for rights in the 1940s.
If I recommend any books that you’d like to purchase, consider buying them through Amazon using the links on my site, so I get a percent of the purchase price back to buy more books to review!