Do you enjoy reading short stories? While novels are the more popular fiction form, do you enjoy reading short stories? Do you read them rarely, occasionally, or regularly.

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W. Somerset Maugham's "Rain" is my favorite short story, and if I ran the zoo it would be the official greatest short story of all time. Maugham's novels have never really done it for me, but his stories are amazing distillations of human nature. An earlier post referred to the "ice berg" theory of short story writing--that is, that two-thirds of the story are what the reader infers from the little bit that is actually on the page. "Rain" epitomizes this kind of story.

I'm not big on surprise endings, though I love being taken in unexpected directions. Maupassaunt and Saki are like snacking on spicy appetizers. For sheer craziness, read T.C. Boyle's stories involving chimpanzees and what they bring out in people. Or his "Hector Quesadilla's Story."

Let's not forget "Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories" by Jean Shepard (who also gave us the stories upon which the film A Christmas Story was based--which, incidentally reminds me of A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, one of the best American short stories and the best by anyone about Christmas).

Long works are more easily satisfying, in part because the author has the luxury of playing around a little. Extended dialog can tolerate (to a point) more grunts, miscommunications, spoonerisms--whatever develops characters and makes them familiar to us. Tangents can take us into the author's or narrator's hidden mind. Landscapes can sculpt a whole topography of moods and expectations. The moment a short story begins to wander off point, it becomes a fragment of a longer work and leaves the reader feeling underfed. A great short story contains everything the reader needs for a single-serving, supremely satisfying meal and leaves the reader with one of those haunting memories, like the one about the perfect burger seasoned and grilled like no other you have ever eaten.

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Absolutely, short stories can be fantastic; but they have to be well delivered and hold the attention quickly. Great writers such as Conan Doyle perfected the art with his short stories of Holmes and Watson. But in the modern era Jeffrey Archer creates excellent short stories that often contain a fine twist by the end, they are so good for dipping into. And if you want something new that you won't have stumbled across yet...if you have a Kindle then download 'The Tale of the Most Excellent Halima' off the Amazon site. There is a great little collection of well reviewed short stories there that you can read on the kindle in the bath!! I love the second tale which is a ghost dtory. So yes the short story is an art form in itslf and well worth while!
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I have enjoyed reading short stories all my life, and I have managed to write a dozen or so and to get them published in men's magazines and literary magazines. What I like about short stories is that they can be perfect in form if the author is a perfectionist and is willing to take the time to polish them. Most aspiring young writers try to write either poetry or short stories, and this makes it very hard to get published. Nowadays it is common for writers to use what are called "simultaneous submissions." An author can send out a dozen copies of the same story, either by using the computer printer or a photocopy machine. Even if the number of writers remained constant (which it hasn't) the number of manuscripts would be far greater. Simultaneous submissions of novels has skyrocketed too, because it is common practice to submit whole manuscripts or sample chapters via the Internet, making it easy for an author to send out a dozen copies at a time just by pushing a few buttons. A young aspiring writer has a better chance of getting published by writing memoirs, articles, and other nonfiction. But you asked if I enjoy reading short stories. I like John Cheever, John Collier, Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov, and lots of others. I once set out to read all of the stories of Guy de Maupassant. He published about 400. I managed to read about 250 in various books from the library. I recently read a small collection of stories by Damon Runyon and found it interesting because he uses only one verb tense, the present. Even when a character is talking about something that happened in the past, he describes it in the present tense. Short-shorts are getting to be very popular. You can read a lot of them online.

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Yes I most certainly do.  There don't seem to be many who still write consistently in this genre anymore, but Stephen King is exceptional at it, as was Raymond Carver.  Plus, I don't always have the time or energy to invest in a novel during the school year, so short story anthologies are easy to pick up and put down whenever I want.

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Reading  is my passion.  All of the genres are fascinating to me.  However, I agree with Paolo Bacigalupi's, an American science fiction writer, opinion of the short story:

Short fiction seems more targeted--hand grenades of ideas, if you will.  When they work, they hit, they explode, and you never forget them.

Why choose a short story instead of that stimulating 400 page novel? Lorrie Moore says that it depends on what the reader needs in his life at the time.

A short story is like a love affair, a novel is a marriage; a short story is a photograph, the novel is a film.

I love short stories.  A short story can be read in a single sitting, thus the reader receives instant gratification. Many times, the short story combines objective matter-of-fact description with a poetic mood.  Like Poe's writing, it presents a unified impression of time and effect. There are limited characters and a simple plot usually with one setting.  The author's point of view is established and may or may not change by the end of the story.  Many times, the short story leaves the reader wanting the story not to end, but relishing the close connection that was established with the main character. 

The short story provides a delicious feeling of intrigue, poignancy, or realism.  There are so many good short story writers.  Here are a few of my favorites. Stephen Crane="The Open Boat"

Haruki Murakami="The Seventh Man"

Margaret Atwood="Death by Landscape"

Edgar Allan Poe=All of them

0. Henry="The Gift of the Magi"

Shirley Jackson="The Lottery"

WillaCather="On the Gull's Road"

Kate Chopin=All of them

Jack London-"To Build a Fire"

Ambrose Bierce="An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"

Jesse Stuart-"Split Cherry Tree"

Of course, I like modern short stories as well; however, I chose these particular stories because I have seen my students' actually become interested in reading and discussion after reading these wonderful stories.  When a teacher experiences a "macho" high school football player raise his hand and give the summary of an "An Occurrence..." and tell the class,

"If you didn't read this story, you missed out.  I didn't want it to end."

After that, for the teacher, all is right with the world.

Yes, I read short stories.

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Novels are special in their own ways and I do enjoy them very much, short stories are unique in ways that are quite different from novels. Other than going over short stories in class, I read short stories regularly in my past time. I enjoy stories from various genres because I think the short stories deliver so much in such abstract way despite the short length. Because of its limit on length, the short stories contain much more meaningful and complex metaphors, imageries and messages.

I like to read short stories that were written by writes who also write novels. Hemingway's 'Hills like white elephants' is one of my favorites because of its effective use of iceberg theory. Hemingway successfully reflects his view on the society through such short but meaningful words.


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While I am a huge advocate of using short stories in my classroom when teaching, like The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, I rarely read them for pleasure, preferring longer works where I can be more invested in the action and characters.  My much neglected anthologies of short stories seldom see any action, with the exception of academic use.  Even though I am an avid reader, probably bordering on addiction, I don't think that I have honestly ever have had a burning desire to read some short stories. 

With that being said, there are definitely some short stories out there that I have genuinely enjoyed.  I definitely second Hardison on one of her favorites, the Sherlock Holmes tales, and one reason I probably do enjoy them so much is due to the continuity of the main characters.  Considering which stories come to mind as ones that I have enjoyed, I seem to have a preference for short stories with clever endings or unanticipated surprises, like "The Open Window" or "The Lottery."   

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It's a very odd thing, but I have to force myself to read short stories, in spite of the fact that I am usually glad when I do so.  In fact, because I have been intrigued by some short story questions on enotes from time to time, I have become acquainted or reacquainted with some stories I enjoyed a great deal.  However, I think one reason I will often opt for a novel, rather than a short story, is that I tend to gobble up text very quickly.  At the end of a short story, as good as it can be, I sometimes feel as though I didn't get enough to eat. I'm a very greedy reader.  

My favorites are usually older stories that few people have even heard of anymore, for example, "The Country of the Blind," (Wells) and "The Ransom of Red Chief" (Henry).  My father was fond of short stories, and my tastes were clearly formed by hearing the stories of his generation.  For my mother, nothing could beat a fairy tale, so I love those as well, especially the old-fashioned ones like the "color" series.

I agree that short stories are wonderful for teaching, particularly when there simply isn't enough time to read an entire novel.  The microcosm of a short story can be a great window into another world, and it also can act as a basis for teaching much of what we want to teach about literature, themes, settings, character, dialogue, and so on.  There is a whole universe to explore in "The Lottery" (Jackson) or "Sonny's Blues" (Baldwin).

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I prefer reading short stories to novels or any other form of literature. They aren't as time-consuming as longer works, and most good short stories conclude with surprise endings--another plus. As a teacher, I have found that most students also prefer short stories for the same reasons. Since Edgar Allan Poe is about my favorite writer, it's tough not to love short stories.

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I enjoy reading some short stories. I enjoy those by Robert Louis Stevenson (reread periodically, especially "The Pavilion on the Links" and "New Arabian Nights" with Prince Florizel), Conan Doyle (especially Sherlock Holmes tales and "The Man from Archangel"), Hawthorne (especially "The Artist of the Beautiful" and his Twice-Told Tales and Other Twice Told Tales), Tolstoy's Twice Told Tales, O. Henry, Honore de Balzac and maybe one or two other short story authors I can't think of (oh yes, like Gorky, Turgenev, Gogol, Pushkin and Chekhov).

I greatly dislike any contemporary short stories I have read and avoid them like the proverbial plague. Robert Louis Stevenson seems to have a particular gift for the short story. His "The Master of Ballantrae" is also particularly memorable, though somewhat chilling. I read these short stories only rarely when I am in the mood for some short old favorites. Although, I recall from the last time I read it that the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine has some very entertaining short stories, like the one set at the shore of a park lake where the police detective from Harvard replies, "Swan, actually," when his partner yells an anguished "Duck!"  

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In reply to e-martin: Ooo, you have not gone back far enough! Your list must expand considerably if you but look broader afield.

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Though I am currently reading through Flannery O'Connor's book of short stories, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, I rarely do such a thing. I admire short stories and enjoy them, sometimes, but find novels to be satisfying more often and, oddly, easier to read. 

Short stories are great teaching tools and great for writing practice too. One of the benefits of teaching English is the natural impetus to read widely in the short story genre. However, it is only the rare short story writer that I consistently enjoy. The number of great short story writers is rather small, as far as my thinking goes.

I'll open myself up to criticism here, but I would say that after you've read through Poe, Kafka, Hemingway, Marquez, Carver and O'Connor, you've read most of the writers out there who specialize(d) and excelled in short form fiction. (If we were making a list of novelists, the names would go on and on.)

Though I do read and re-read the writers on this short list and find them fascinating, I find that my reading appetite is strongly directed toward novels and plays.

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