Although I still read more novels by far, I have found myself increasingly drawn to the medium of the short story. This evening, I decided to take a quick look at my reading long during the past twelve years. As the period progressed, I noticed myself reading more and more short story collections.
I was surprised to find that there were relatively few women writers whom I thought had mastered the genre. In fact, the only ones who impressed me were Virginia Woolf (no surprise there!), the Argentinian Silvina Ocampo, and—closer to home—Joyce Carol Oates and Shirley Jackson. Why this is I do not know. It could be that they are out there, but to date I am not familiar with their work.
Another surprise was that the United States was well represented, what with writers like Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Stephen Crane, Henry James, J. D. Salinger, Barry Gifford, Philip K. Dick, and Ray Bradbury.
Latin America has some outstanding representatives. Topping the list are Argentina’s Jorge Luis Borges and Mexico’s Juan Rulfo. Not far behind are Roberto Bolaño and Francisco Coloane from Chile, Gabriel García Márquez from Colombia, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo (who were married to each other) from Argentina.
Britain gave us Somerset Maugham, George Mackay Brown, G. K. Chesterton, and Graham Greene. In France, there was Guy de Maupassant. From Central Europe there was Franz Kafka and Bohumil Hrabal (Czechoslovakia) and Bruno Schulz (Poland).
The greatest Russian short story writer was Anton Chekhov, but there was also Leo Tolstoy, Varlam Shalamov, and Andrei Platanov.
I have just finished Barry Gifford’s The Cuban Club: Stories, and I find several other story collections in my TBR (To Be Read) pile. I guess I’m hooked.
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