the best short stories to read this weekend
posted: May 30, 2014
Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar, herding sheep together on Brokeback Mountain in 1963, develop a close friendship that quickly turns into a sexual relationship.
A New York writer befriends his quirky neighbour, Holly Golightly, and tumbles into her world—sometimes surreptitiously—with great fascination for her unpredictable lifestyle.
When Teddy, Vern, Gordie and Chris decide to become small-town heroes by finding a dead body in the woods, a barf-o-rama pie-eating contest is one of the memorable outcomes.
Recognize these plots? You’re probably thinking, “Sure, I’ve seen Brokeback Mountain, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Stand By Me.”
But have you read them? Each of these movies was adapted from a short story.
Speak to the literary genre, Guardian writer Catherine Gander notes that, contrary to its reputation as “quick fix,” short fiction requires the reader’s time and attention. You can’t leave and come back to a short story the way you can an episodic, multi-narrative novel, or episode of Downton Abbey. The short story demands commitment. And the U.S. has, she says, always given it—the link between the short story and film in America now a mutually sustaining relationship.
With the rise of digital publishing helping this form of writing back into favour in many other countries (and since we have shorts on the brain right now), we decided the time was right to ask some of our brand team their favourite short stories. Guaranteed at least one is perfect for your weekend read.
No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July —Tess, men’s social media specialist
The characters of filmmaker and performing artist Miranda July engage awkwardly—they are sometimes too remote, sometimes too intimate. Yet it’s with great compassion and generosity that July reveals their idiosyncrasies and the odd logic and longing that govern their lives.
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe —Melissa, holiday specialist
First published in 1842 in the inaugural issue of a short-lived Boston magazine called The Pioneer, Poe is thought to have been paid about $10 to craft this timeless tale. The story is told by an unnamed narrator who endeavours to convince the reader of his sanity, while describing a murder he committed.
Who Am I This Time by Kurt Vonnegut — Ben, online community specialist
Collected in Vonnegut’s famous anthology Welcome To The Monkey House, this short story centres on a shy character named Harry Nash, who comes to life in the characters he plays on stage in his small town local theatre. It’s through a role that he attracts a love interest, who’s more interested in the character he plays than in Nash himself.
The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley —Alyson, copy writer
Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) said that Loren Eiseley’s work changed his life. Part of a 16-page essay and an anthology of the same name, Eiseley’s The Star Thrower describes the narrator walking along a beach in early morning, coming across a man throwing starfish into the sea, and the conversation that results, chronicling one man’s search for spiritual answers.
The Long Walk by Stephen King —Kate, managing editor, blog
Written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, this dystopian read was the first book that Stephen King ever wrote. Arguably a novel (it’s not super short, but not really long), the highly character-driven plot revolves around the male contestants of a macabre walking contest, held annually by a totalitarian version of the U.S.
Want more? We suggest these classics and a couple contemporary Canadian gems:
• To Build A Fire by Jack London
• The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
• The Resplendent Quetzal by Margaret Atwood
• Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger by Saki
• Meneseteung by Alice Munro
• The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
• The Dead by James Joyce
• A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor
Curious about other short stories that have been made into movies? We love The Telegraph’s compilation.
We want to know: what is your favourite short story?
Kate is a writer, editor and fast-talker (literally), who thinks that life is profoundly better when she’s outside—especially when there’s a board beneath her feet. Join her on the ride on Twitter and Instagram.