Short Stories & Novellas2020-06-02T15:24:39-05:00

A Bottle of the Finest Vinegar?

Reading Mavis Gallant from the Beginning

That’s how Janice Kulyk Keefer described the proces of reading the entirety of Mavis Gallant’s fiction: the finest vinegar. Still in the early stages of the reading project, I would liken it more to the complicated pleasure of the darkest chocolate on your tongue.

123 Stories to Read

Week by week, Story by story: Mavis Gallant (123 short stories, 2017-2020) and Alice Munro (147 short stories, 2011-2015). Who will be next?


From websites to prizelists, from “staff picks” to magazines: where do you find short stories to read?.


Allowing too much time to pass without reading a short story is like leaving too much time between desserts: eventually I must have one.


Recent Bookchat

About Short-fiction pages that I’ve been turning

(For recent bookchat across all categories, visit Home)

Mavis Gallant’s “August”

“August” picks up the thread from 1959’s “Travellers Must Be Content” (a story which was also collected in The Cost of Living/Going Ashore). Just as time has passed between publications, time

Quarterly Stories: Summer 2020

Adichie, Colford, Ez-Eldin, Gallant, and Hurst Short Stories in April, May, June Whether in a dedicated collection or a magazine, these stories capture a variety of reading moods. This

Mavis Gallant’s “The Fenton Child”

“‘Newborn, they’ve got these huge peckers,’ said Mr. Fenton. ‘I mean, really developed.’” When it comes to writing about Mavis Gallant’s short stories, I often want to begin with their first sentences.

Mavis Gallant’s “Forain”

In the late edition of the Sunday New York Times, on September 12, 1993 John McGahern describes "Forain" as “a story that is as close to perfection as possible”. What a compliment.

Mavis Gallant’s “Kingdom Come”

If only Dr. Dominic Missierna could arrange for a weekly dinner with Charles Filandreux (from “Siegfried’s Memoirs” in Coming Ashore) and Henri Grippes (from “A Painful Affair” in Overhead in a Balloom).

Curious about the short form?

Wonder what makes stories tick?

A short story is a love affair; a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.
Lorrie Moore

A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.
Stephen King

Collections of Enid Blyton stories. My copy of Toyland Tales is battered, I also filled in the hands on the clock puzzles, counted the mice following the Pied Piper and coloured people’s faces green.

Edith Pearlman, thanks to a recommendation from Julia, an enthusiastic short story reader and writer, who noticed we share a love of short fiction that tugs at the heart.

So many people can now write competent stories that the short story is in danger of dying of competence.
Flannery O’Connor

Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.
Ray Bradbury

Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.
Neil Gaiman

My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. I remember exactly where I set down each and every one of them, and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart
Haruki Murakami

Outside of a class reader, the first story I remember rereading was in an anthology about a woman who is walking home alone at night and hears footsteps behind her. All the bejeebies were scared out of me, every single time.

In the same year: D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner”, William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”. It was a good year, but now I see that we did not study Tillie Olsen, Ethel Wilson or Charlotte Perkins.

A good [short story] would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.
David Sedaris

When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you.
George Saunders

Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.
Mavis Gallant

Follow one short story with two more and the impact of any one of them seems to be dissipated and diluted.
Susan Hill

Alice Munro’s A Friend of My Youth, as much for its quiet understated cover as my sense of needing-to-have-read-her-by-that-time. When I loved it, I began to buy collections as often as novels. Well, almost as often.

Fourteen. Highlights included Olive Senior’s The Pain Tree, Catherine Leroux’s The Party Wall, Langston Hughes’ The Ways of White Folks, and Cherie Dimaline’s A Gentle Habit.

I find it satisfying and intellectually stimulating to work with the intensity, brevity, balance and word play of the short story.
Annie Proulx

Somewhere around the place I’ve got an unfinished short story about Schrodinger’s Dog; it was mostly moaning about all the attention the cat was getting.
Terry Pratchett

“The best short stories contain novels. Either they are densely plotted, with each line an insight, or they distill emotions that could easily have spread on for pages, chapters.”

Louise Erdrich

“The divine art is the story. In the beginning was the story…. Within our whole universe the story only has authority to answer the cry of heart of its characters, that one cry of heart of each of them: ‘Who am I?'”

Isak Dinesen
Go to Top