The Literate Kitten listed her ten favorite short stories a few days ago and issued a Short Story Challenge: read one of her favorites and tell her one of yours. Today LK listed all the stories recommended to her and chose one of them to read.
I'd read most of LK's favorites already, and was happy to see the first story in William Faulkner's Collected Stories, a recent purchase, among the ones I had not. I read "Barn Burning" last night, and then again this morning while waiting for the results of my parrot's bloodwork: it's absolutely brilliant.
Here's a sample:
That night they camped, in a grove of oaks and beeches where a spring ran. The nights were still cool and they had a fire against it, of a rail lifted from a nearby fence and cut into lengths--a small fire, neat, niggard almost, a shrewd fire; such fires were his father's habit and custom always, even in freezing weather. Older, the boy might have remarked this and wondered why not a big one; why should not a man who had not only seen the waste and extravagance of war, but who had in his blood an inherent voracious prodigality with material not his own, have burned everything in sight? Then he might have gone a step farther and thought that that was the reason: that niggard blaze was the living fruit of night passed during those four years in the woods hiding from all men, blue or gray, with his strings of horses (captured horses, he called them). And older still, he might have divined the true reason: that the element of fire spoke to some deep mainspring of his father's being, as the element of steel or of powder spoke to other men, as the one weapon for the preservation of integrity, else breath were not worth the breathing, and hence to be regarded with respect and used with discretion.
Here's my own list of favorites, in no particular order. These are the first stories that came to mind, minus any that were also on LK's list, so I guess I should really call them the most memorable stories I've read:
Brokeback Mountain. Annie Proulx
Wild Horses. Rick Bass
Ward No. 6. Anton Chekhov
A Father's Story. Andre Dubus
People Like That Are the Only People Here. Lorrie Moore
Werewolves in Their Youth. Michael Chabon
Bullet in the Brain. Tobias Wolff
Apocalypse. T.E. Holt
Snows of Kilamanjaro. Ernest Hemingway
Why I Live at the P.O. Eudora Welty
Apocalypse can be found in Necessary Fictions: Selected Stories from the Georgia Review. There are copies available at abe.com for a dollar.
I intend to read a lot of short stories over the summer. It'll be interesting to see if my top ten has a different look come September.
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