After I wrote that last list of favorite short story writers, I realized I’d left off one of my most favorite, Dale Herd, who is also an old friend (I dug his writing before we met).
I usually don’t include living writers in my lists because of just that, the fear that I’ll leave off someone dear to me whose work I love but I just don’t think of at that moment.
But having gone ahead and done that, when I was trying to fall back asleep last night after some noise from the caterers across the alley coming back from a late job woke me (they seem to need to shout to one another louder the later it gets) I thought I might as well create another list (this time triplets, each with some things in common) of the actual short story collections I love the most, including a few written by people I know.
So here ‘tis (and I know I forgot some, so if you’re one, don’t think it was intentional):
James Joyce’s DUBLINERS
Sherwood Anderson’s WINESBURG, OHIO
Jean Toomer’s CANE
Jean Rhys’ THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES
William Carlos Williams’ THE FARMERS’ DAUGHTERS
William Saroyan’s THE DARING YOUNG MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE
Samuel Beckett’s THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES
LeRoi Jones’ TALES
Hubert Selby Jr.’s SONG OF THE SILENT SNOW AND OTHER STORIES
Dale Herd’s EARLY MORNING WIND
Merill Gilfillan’s GRASSHOPPER FALLS
Andrea Lee’s INTERESTING WOMEN
[I couldn't remember the next morning what the third book for this last triplet was, which is why I usually do alphabet lists because they're easier to remember, and then my friend Ray reminded me of Terence Winch's CONTENDERS which I had on the recent short story writers list, and I remembered that was it. It would have come between EARLY MORNING WIND and GRASSHOPPER FALLS if I had remembered.]
[I noticed after I made this that the stories in these collections cover a time span from the turn of the 20th Century to nearly the present, so that in its own way this list would make a terrific syllabus for a history class, history as told from the perspective of all kinds of people in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances, but all outside the centers and positions of political and economic power. In other words, the kind of history you rarely get in actual history classes, the kind of true history that maybe only works of art can truly capture and express, and in ways that make the history not only more real, but a personal experience for those who read them, so that I feel like I was present for the stories told in these books, as they occurred, even if long before I was born, or far from where I ever lived.]