Toolbox Stories

I should say this: I love short stories. This blog is not about dissing the short story. 


But to provide some balance, I thought I'd post this, my "toolbox stories."  These are the stories I carry around with me in my handy-dandy toolbox, also called “my head.” When I read a short story or essay by a friend or student that needs some work, I think to myself, “What story does s/he really need to read? Of course! I know! S/he needs to read [blank].” 


These are my go-to stories. I forced myself to limit some authors to just three stories. 
 
Remember, everyone’s toolbox is different. This is simply mine.

Conrad Aiken, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow”
Sherman Alexie, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”
Sherman Alexie, “What We Mean When We Say Phoenix, Arizona”
Sherwood Anderson, all the stories in Winesburg, Ohio
Sherwood Anderson, “Death in the Woods”
Margaret Atwood, “Death by Landscape”
Margaret Atwood, “Happy Endings”
James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”
Russell Banks, “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story”
Donald Barthelme, “Me and Miss Mandible”
Donald Barthelme, “The School”
Richard Bausch, “The Fireman’s Wife”
Charles Baxter, “Snow”
Charles Baxter, “Gryphon”
Ann Beattie, “Janus”
Ann Beattie, “The Burning House”
T.C. Boyle, “The Love of My Life”
T.C. Boyle, “Heart of a Champion”
T.C. Boyle, “The Women’s Restaurant”
Ethan Canin, “The Year of Getting to Know Us”
Ethan Canin, “The Emperor of the Air”
Raymond Carver, “Boxes”
Raymond Carver, “Are These Actual Miles?”
Raymond Carver, “Cathedral”
Willa Cather, “Paul’s Case”
Dan Chaon, “Big Me”
Dan Chaon, “Here’s a Little Something to Remember Me By”
Anton Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog”
Charles Chesnutt, “The Goophered Grapevine”
Charles Chesnutt, “The Passing of Grandison”
Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”
Walter Van Tilburg Clark, “The Portable Phonograph”
Samuel Clemens, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
Robert Coover, “The Babysitter”
Stephen Crane, “The Open Boat”
Stephen Crane, “The Blue Hotel”
Stephen Crane, “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”
Lydia Davis, “Kafka Cooks Dinner”
Rebecca Harding Davis, “Life in the Iron Mills”
Junot Diaz, “Fiesta, 1980”
Andre Dubus, “A Father’s Story”
Andre Dubus, “The Fat Girl”
Stuart Dybek, “Pet Milk”
Stuart Dybek, “We Didn’t”
Tony Earley, “Charlotte”
Tony Early, “My Father’s Heart”
Ralph Ellison, “The Battle Royal”
Louise Erdrich, “The Red Convertible”
William Faulkner, “A Rose for Miss Emily”
William Faulkner, “Barn Burning”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Winter Dreams”
Gustave Flaubert, “A Simple Heart”
Richard Ford, “Communist”
Richard Ford, “Rock Springs”
Mary Wilkins Freeman, “The Revolt of ‘Mother’”
Mary Gaitskill, “Tiny, Smiling Daddy”
Hamlin Garland, “Under the Lion’s Paw”
William Gass, “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Susan Glaspell, “A Jury of Her Peers”
Barry Hannah, “Testimony of Pilot”
Bret Harte, “The Outcasts of Poker Flat”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Minister’s Black Veil”
Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants”
Ernest Hemingway, “Soldier’s Home”
Ernest Hemingway, “Indian Camp”
Aleksandar Hemon, “The Life and Work of Alphonse Kauders”
Aleksandar Hemon, “The Noble Truths of Suffering”
Amy Hempel, “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”
Amy Hempel, “The Man in Bogot√°”
Cary Holloday, “Merry Go Sorry”
Mary Hood, “How Far She Went”
Pam Houston, “How to Talk to a Hunter”
Zora Neale Hurston, “The Gilded Six Bits”
Washington Irving, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle”
Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”
Sarah Orne Jewett, “The White Heron”
Denis Johnson, “Car Crash While Hitchhiking”
James Joyce, “Araby”
Anna Keesey, “Be My Boo Radley”
Ring Lardner, “Haircut”
Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
Kelly Link, “Stone Animals”
Bernard Malamud, “The Magic Barrel”
Katherine Mansfield, “Bliss”
Katherine Mansfield, “Miss Brill”
Bobbie Ann Mason, “Shiloh”
Guy de Maupassant, “The Necklace”
Reginald McKnight, “The Kind of Light that Shines on Texas”
Herman Melville, “Bartleby the Scrivener”
Susan Minot, “Lust”
Rick Moody, “The Grid”
Rick Moody, “Demonology”
Lorrie Moore, “People Like that Are the Only People Here”
Lorrie Moore, “How to be a Writer”
Lorrie Moore, “You’re Ugly, Too”
Alice Munro, “Friend of My Youth”
Alice Munro, “Meneseteung”
Joyce Carol Oates, “Where are You Going? Where Have You Been?”
Joyce Carol Oates, “How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again”
Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried”
Tim O’Brien, “The Lives of the Dead”
Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
Flannery O’Connor, “Everything That Rises Must Converge”
Flannery O’Connor, “Good Country People”
Tillie Olson, “I Stand Here Ironing”
Grace Paley, “Conversation with My Father”
Dorothy Parker, “Big Blonde”
Jayne Anne Phillips, “Lechery”
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
Edgar Allan Poe,, “The Black Cat”
Katherine Anne Porter, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”
William Sydney Porter (O. Henry), “The Gift of the Magi”
Anne Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain”
Annie Proulx, “Job History”
Annie Proulx, “The Bunchgrass Edge of the World”
Mark Richard, “Strays”
Mark Richard, “The Birds for Christmas”
Mary Robison, “Coach”
Mary Robison, “Pretty Ice”
Philip Roth, “Defender of the Faith”
Delmore Schwartz, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”
George Saunders, “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline”
George Saunders, “Sea Oak”
George Saunders, “In Persuasion Nation”
Lee Smith, “Intensive Care”
John Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums”
James Thurber, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
John Updike, “A&P”
John Updike, “Separating”
Kurt Vonnegut, “Welcome to the Monkey House”
Alice Walker, “Everyday Use”
Alice Walker, “1955”
David Foster Wallace, “The Depressed Person”
Eudora Welty, “The Worn Path”
Eudora Welty, “Where is the Voice Coming From?”
Eudora Welty, “The Petrified Man”
Edith Wharton, “Roman Fever”
John Edgar Wideman, “newborn thrown in trash and dies”
William Carlos Williams, “The Use of Force”
Tobias Wolff, “Bullet in the Brain”
Tobias Wolff, “Hunters in the Snow”
Tobias Wolff, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs”
Richard Wright, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man”
Richard Wright, “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”
Richard Wright, “Big Boy Leaves Home”