Eleven (11) Short Story Collections That'd Accompany Me into My Bahamian Exile

While I get the feel for what I'm really doing with these lists, whether it's just listings or listings with explanations and reasons why they're included, I'll begin with simply a list, in arbitrary order (this isn't a Top 11 list necessarily) and perhaps return with more observations later, or in a separate post, or perhaps spontaneously riff something should the impulse strike.

The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor.

I could spend an entire post on each of her stories. They always pack a wallop, be it twist (or twisted perspective); epiphany that opens not only the character's eyes experiencing it, but the reader's eyes (I know my eyes) while reading it; or moral (sometimes didadtic) perspective previously unconsidered. What an original writer. Anybody with any Judeo-Christian or Catholic background at all, won't escape the spiritual resplendence of he remarkable stories.


The Stories of John Cheever.

I didn't know New York City very well until I met John Cheever. Once I'd met the man, though, reading his stories, gem after gem, I don't think it'd be too too presumptuous to say I do know New York City now, even though I've never set foot in town.

Cheever's New Yorkers are so relatable and uncannily likable, like Ralph and Laura Whittemore in my favorite story of his collected here, 'The Pot of Gold,' I'm left wondering if maybe Cheever didn't embellish these New Yorkers just a wee bit with extra coatings of likableness and grace and forbearance and perseverance that maybe bend the truth a bit about the collective character and demeanors of The Big Apple's occupants.

Aren't New Yorkers gruff and tough and abrasive, always ready to throw blows should you foolishly make eye contact with them on the street? Maybe so, but not John Cheever's New Yorkers. His New Yorkers are vulnerable and complicated and sensitive, like real people, and not caricatures!

My favorite New Yorker of Cheever's is the man aforementioned, Ralph Whittemore, from 'Pot of Gold'.

Ralph, like most American men, has bought in to the American Lie that a man's worth is based on what he does for a living and how much money he makes at it; and the higher he's carved out his spot on that fiscal/prestigious totem pole (is he a doctor, lawyer, or sports-star?) the greater and more positively he's generally judged and envied, irrespective of his character.

Ralph, however, is positioned so low on the totem pole only dogs can truly appreciate him (at least in his despairing mind, that, thankfully, and gracefully, is soon to be enlightened, by his wife).

Leave it to a woman to tell him the truth about himself. That the 'Pot of Gold' he's been striving for for so hard and for so long has already been his for a long time. Genuinely moving story. Love it so much I've sought out the first ed. as well as the trade pb. I'd long had. Now, which copy would accompany me to the Bahamas?

The Collected Stories by Lorrie Moore

As I mentioned previously, this book does not exist ... yet, but I'm positive someday it will. Lorrie Moore does successful, but unhappy people better than anybody I've yet discovered. And I enjoy reading about unhappy people (not all the time) but enough of the time to remind me, in my own periodic episodes of unhappiness, that I've got it made in the shade compared to Moore's cretinous creations.

The Collected Stories of Chester Himes

Discovered him first in his first and angriest, unhinged novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go in a college lit. course, and then found his stories. Himes does the injustice of racism better in his stories than even what Toni Morrison accomplished in her profoundly powerful masterpiece, Beloved. I read Himes when I was 20; when I was 30; and at 40-plus-a-year, I return to him still. Either he gets better with age, or more age and experience more completely reveals Hime's story's truths and wisdom, even as his characters seem to make the same mistakes, in their constant war facing a seeming indomitable injustice, again and again.

The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.

So, okay, I confess, haven't read anything by 'ol Hem since I was 25. But the impression this man left on me has lasted in his stories, some which, their dialogue, is as alive in my head as it was on the page when I first read it. "The Light of the World," "One Reader Writes," "Hills Like White Elephants," profuse in elegance and eliciting long remembrance once read, still stirs me.

The Complete Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant.

Love this book. Of course I've not yet read all of the 270 stories in this sweet, one volume ed. published in 1955. I've read 50, and want to keep reading more. As iconic and famously surprising his most anthologized story is, "The Necklace," Guy was a lot more than that.

The Collected Stories by Grace Paley

Overlooked master craftswoman of the form. I admit I'm limited in experience to only reading her collection, The Little Disturbances of Man, which means I'd have much to look forward to in the Bahamas.

Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges.

Listen, if I'm going to be limited in how many books I can bring, and will need time to contemplate and wonder and analyze what I've read to fill all my free time in the Bahamas, rather than just reading to fill all my free time in the Bahamas, then this book, much of it like excerpts or summaries of novels that Borges never wrote and don't exist, is it. Read, and think, and let that imagination go....

The Collected Stories and Novellas: 13 Volume Leatherbound ed. by Stephen King.

A must for any person's self-exile into the Bahamas.

Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, edited by Phylis Wagner and Herbert Wise.

Nearly 100 dark classic tales from mostly the 19th century and early 20th, filled with macabre, gothic, and decadent delights.

Stories of Anton Chekhov.

"Vanka" could be the saddest, most tragic short story ever. It skins my sensibilities alive, before it slays me.


  1. As far as Short stories go, I would include http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Vladimir-Nabokov/dp/0679729976/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304360388&sr=1-1



  2. Thanks Bard!

    How could I forget Nabokov?!


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