Today I want to ‘gush’ about an oft neglected genre, Short Stories.
Short stories are my favourites. I think that a writer who can put all the emotions that requires a whole book to play through in just a few pages deserves to be applauded. Only a really good writer is capable of doing that. But in the hands of mediocre writers short stories can become bungled messes that come to an abrupt end without any rhyme or reason.
Most people feel that short stories do not satisfy a reader’s hunger, that it leaves them wanting more. But I feel that little bit of ‘want’ that a short story leaves behind is what makes it so good!
Here are some of my favourites,
Since mystery is my favourite genre I like reading mystery short stories which in my opinion are the hardest to write. The writer has to be really adept in creating the right amount of tension. The solutions also have to be good.
The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Chilling atmosphere of fear and distrust.
The Idol House of Astarte by Agatha Christie – A touch of the supernatural works perfectly well.
Murdering Max by Peter Lovesey – A twisted tale of jealousy and revenge.
The Biter Bit by Wilkie Collins – Not a ‘mystery’ per se but has got to be the one of the funniest detective stories ever.
Things that go bump in the night!
Horror/supernatural is another difficult genre for short stories. Packing just enough elements to shock the reader, to get that tingle up the reader’s spine in such a short span of time is a difficult task.
Some of my favourites,
Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier – It’s the unexpected ending that took my breath away.
The Upper Berth and The Screaming Skull by F. Marion Crawford – A little longish but spine-chilling. The latter one is especially scary.
The Dream-Woman by Wilkie Collins – A dream comes true for our hero Isaac Scatchard. Too bad it’s really a nightmare!
I am not a major fan of romance in general. But I do have one or two favourite short stories where love (and not just ‘romantic’ love) is the central focus. And where the romance itself is the focus almost all of them are about the disillusionment of love.
The Kiss by Anton Chekhov – I love the brutal honesty of the ‘love’ story of an insignificant, unattractive soldier.
The Last Leaf by O’Henry – A non-romantic story but I feel it’s about love.
The Letters by Edith Wharton – Another story about how unrealistic the idea of true love can be.
A Mixed Bag
Finally, there are some gems out there that refuse to fit into any one genre but are great reads nonetheless. The Unicorn in the Garden by James Thurber deserves a special mention. Read the story yourself and figure out what Thurber meant by it.
A Shocking Accident by Graham Greene – I actually understood how a situation that sounds silly to one may mean life and death to another.
The Revolt of Mother by Mary E. Wilkins – Feminism, nineteenth century rural New England style!
And of course, The Unicorn in the Garden by James Thurber.
It has been fun doing this post! It got me remembering all of the great short stories that I have read.
I would love to hear from any other short story readers out there. Just to know that I am not alone!