ARTS & CULTURE
05/25/2016 10:23 am ET

Celebrate Short Story Month With These 17 Stellar Short Stories By Contemporary Writers

You can read ‘em all on the Internet, folks.

George Marks via Getty Images

We’re now in the throes of Short Story Month, a gleeful celebration of fiction writing with a word limit. Short stories are typically classified as any work amounting to fewer than 7,500 words, but of course, there’s much more to the form than that.

Working within a smaller frame, writers mustn’t meander; short stories often rely on economical descriptions of settings, spare dialogue exchanged between characters, and single scenes rather than years-long plots, although the latter isn’t entirely unheard of, either.

A successful short story should, like any story, present a conflict that in some way or another resolves. Pretty, picturesque settings aren’t reason enough to construct, or engage with a work of fiction; they should also possess a few other traits, according to Kelly Luce, an editor who doles out the career-catapulting O. Henry Prizes. (For example, they should not relate a real-life drug experience, no matter how revelatory, and they should probably veer away from Dumpsters as motifs.)

The below short stories -- and abridged novel chapters -- thankfully, do neither, and we love them all the more for it.

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1. “Jubilee” by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Published in Guernica
In short: A college student attends a party her father was invited to cater.

2. “Beneath the National Palace of Culture” by Garth Greenwell

Published in Vice
In short: An abridged excerpt from Greenwell’s novel, about unrequited sexual obsession.

3. “The Tobacconist” by Anna Noyes

Published in American Short Fiction
In short: A man stifles his romantic fantasies about a cigar salesman.

4. “You, Disappearing” by Alexandra Kleeman

Published in Guernica
In short: When the apocalypse finally happens, it’s more melancholic than tragic.

5. “It Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Deal” by Rebecca Schiff

Published in Electric Literature
In short: A woman new to dating visits a moochy pot grower in California; hilarity ensues.

6. “Virgins” by Danielle Evans

Published in Paris Review
In short: A voice-driven story about young women discovering the exhilarating dangers of sexual exploration.  

HPMG

7. “Midnight Zone” by Lauren Groff

Published in The New Yorker
In short: A woman cares for her two sons at a hunting camp over spring break.

8. “Lawn Dad” by Lincoln Michel

Published in Midnight Breakfast
In short: A suburban family deteriorates surreally.

9. “Four Tales for Dry Land” by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Published in The Offing
In short: A woman apprehensively gets acquainted with her body; a woman teaches a reluctant student about poetry.

10. "The Knowers" by Helen Phillips

Published in Electric Literature
In short: A dystopian story with characters who may choose to know the date of their deaths.

11. “The Swan as a Metaphor for Love” by Amelia Gray

Published in Joyland
In short: The author rips apart the quixotic idea of mating for life.
Read our review of Amelia Gray’s book.

12. “The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link

Published in Strange Horizons
In short: A girl and her brother celebrate her birthday, along with a houseful of strange creatures. 

HPMG

13. “The Girl I Hate” by Mona Awad

Published in Post Road Magazine
In short: A woman who struggles with body confidence watches a ravenous coworker at lunch.

14. “Composite Body” by Tony Tulathimutte

Published in Cimarron Review
In short: A boy adjusts to his new family after his parents get divorced.

15. “Fugue” by Maryse Meijer

In short: A girl fends off a crew of young men pursuing her. 

16. “The Janitor in Space” by Amber Sparks

Published in American Short Fiction
In short: A woman embraces her loneliness while cleaning up after astronauts.

17. “You Were Here” by Cote Smith

Published in Crazyhorse
In short: A Kansas sheriff plays cops and robbers with his rowdy sons.

 

Happy reading!

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