Short Stories 6

This is the sixth post in this series; you can find the others here: one, two, three, four, five

Here are some more short stories that I have enjoyed reading and teaching:

1. Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

In 1950’s Harlem, a man discovers that his younger brother has been arrested for selling Heroin. Upon his release from prison, the younger brother is taken in by the man to live with him. This powerful story explores brotherly love and how anger and a lack of opportunity can lead to darkness.

2. I Bought a Little City by Donald Barthelme

The narrator acts like a creator, detailing how he is remaking and rebuilding the landscape of Galveston. Can a utopian society be created? Can the people be placated and manipulated? This story explores the limitations of power and control.

3. The Bet by Anton Chekov

Which is worse: the death penalty or live imprisonment? A young man and a banker make a life changing bet in order to find out.

4. The Burrow by Franz Kafka

Written shortly before his death, The Burrow follows a fossorial mammal as it attempts to strengthen, refine and realise its subterranean realm. The animal is plagued by delusion, anxiety and the threat of invasion as it strives to create and justify its elaborate creation. Is it an exploration of his illness and hypochondria or an extended metaphor for the difficult relationship between writer and reader?

5.Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver

A story that is both short and shocking. A couple fight, arguing over their possessions.

6. Blood Child by Octavia Butler

An intelligent race of aliens dominates and exploits humans, using them as hosts for their eggs. This disturbing tale explores love, power and interdependence.

7. A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

Emily Grierson is an eccentric old woman who is the subject of gossip for the townspeople of Jefferson. As Southern society slowly creaks forwards and begins to change, she remains, symbolising tradition and the old social order.

8. There Was Once by Margaret Atwood

Two characters talk: one attempts to write a story and the other interrupts, questioning and criticising the choices made by the other. This story explores the process of writing and the often difficult relationship between writer and reader.

9. Signs and Symbols by Vladimir Nabokov

A married couple visit their son in a psychiatric ward. Their son suffers from ‘referential mania’, a delusion where he imagines that everything within existence is a shrouded reference to himself: he sees patterns, signs and self-referential symbolism in the most mundane of things. Is Nabokov satirising interpretation itself? Is analysis a futile pursuit or is it the very essence of existence?

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