The literary journal One Story was recently asked to name its 10 top short stories. On its blog, the top 10 were listed, along with a long list of 26 other contenders. Some of the comments expressed shock that Hemingway wasn’t included. I was more overwhelmed by the fact that One Story, which publishes one short story every three weeks, has more than 15 staffers.
And Hemingway-Schmemingway, the list also didn’t include William Trevor (pictured) — an even greater oversight, in my opinion. But as the folks at One Story admit, this task is “pretty impossible” and “always changing.” Off the top of my head, my list might include one story from their top 10 list (“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and another from its long list (“Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot” by Robert Olen Butler).
Some locks for me would include “The Piano Tuner’s Wives” by William Trevor, “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, “We Didn’t” by Stuart Dybek, “Tapka” by David Bezmozgis, and “The Sandman” by Donald Barthelme. I remember loving “A Letter That Never Reached Russia” by Nabokov, but it’s been a long time. Lorrie Moore, Junot Diaz, Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, and Chekhov might make my list, too, but I would have to go back to figure out which story in each case. This exercise is making me wish (even more than usual) that many of my short-story anthologies weren’t in storage. Might be time to pay them a visit.