With the release of my first collection of short stories, CONTROLLED CHAOS, coming out this Tuesday, April 2nd, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my Top 10 books of short stories. I haven't read all of the classics (THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF ANTON CHEKHOV, Flannery O'Connor's A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND, Grace Paley's ENORMOUS CHANGES AT THE LAST MINUTE, just to name a few), but I've read a bunch of short stories overall, and a lot of collections. These are the single-author collections I've read and enjoyed, and hopefully learned a thing or two from, then put to good use in my own stories.
1) NINE STORIES by J.D. Salinger -- the only book of short stories I have read multiple times. Some are very dated, and the storytelling style is a bit antiquated by today's standards, but it continues to be a stand-out group of stories.
2) DELTA OF VENUS by Anais Nin -- not only erotic and scintillating, but also beautifully crafted and lovingly written stories by the French author.
3) NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King -- probably one of the first short story collections I ever read. Spooky and chilling and downright nightmare-inducing from the master of horror.
4) ELEVEN by Patricia Highsmith -- most of these would be considered horror stories, but so many of them are playful and full of suspense, wit, and depth.
5) INTERPRETER OF MALADIES by Jhumpa Lahiri -- a near-perfect collection of stories about the Indian experience, both in and out of America. Every sentence is lovely, every story full of bite and with tremendously well-thought-out structures.
6) THE ILLUSTRATED MAN by Ray Bradbury -- if this sci-fi / speculative fiction author knows anything, it's how to write fantastic short stories. Here are faintly-linked stories that weave from pathos to passion to perfection.
7) A MODEL WORLD AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Chabon -- the first half are all related stories about one small family, told from different perspectives and narrative points-of-view. The second half are just as well-written and enjoyable.
8) IN OUR TIME by Ernest Hemingway -- the first and best collection by "Papa," with lots of Nick Adams stories and a focus on masculinity and what it means to be not just a man, but a good man.
9) CATHEDRAL by Raymond Carver -- the master, at his most masterful with these simply-told, yet complex stories of the folks next door.
10) WE LIVE IN WATER by Jess Walter -- a compassionate look at the underbelly of Portland, Oregon, the poor souls who are usually the stuff of ridicule, but in Walter's hands are worthy of respect and of their (flawed) humanity.
A few more single-author collections worth your time: Amy Hempel's REASONS TO LIVE; GOODBYE, COLUMBUS AND FIVE SHORT STORIES by Philip Roth; THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN by John Steinbeck; THE GIRL IN THE FLAMMABLE SKIRT by Aimee Bender; Marisa Silver's BABE IN PARADISE; Denis Johnson's JESUS'S SON; THE ICE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD by Mark Richard; and Dylan Landis's NORMAL PEOPLE DON'T LIVE LIKE THIS