Recently I’ve been more and more drawn to writing fiction. I’ve always toyed with the idea but recently I’ve had more time as I am working evening shifts for the Guardian and have my days wide open. So lately when I’ve not been there I’ve been working on a few short stories. I don’t think they will see the light of day anytime soon. Even if they aretthex a pile of crap, as Ernest Hemmingway said, “the first draft of anything is shit”.
Subsequently I’ve been reading more and most recently I have been reading lots of short fiction online, one of my favourite forms of fiction writing. I think it’s such an unsung genre and I found you can access a lot online for free. I thought I would post some links I have found to some of my favourites that are available online…
A Perfect Day for Bananafish – J D Salinger
This story was probably one of the first short stories I read as an adult. While I have read so many brilliant stories since, I think this will always remain special to me for introducing me to the genre and for the way it hit me the first time I read it, like a punch in the gut. God bless the Glass family, cheery they are not.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? – Joyce Carol Oates
I only read this story very recently and it is thoroughly creepy. Uneasy and disturbing, it is a must. Oates wrote the story after reading about the “Pied piper of Tuscon” murders in Arizona which were profiled in Life Magazine the same year. The song is dedicated to Bob Dylan as Oates said she was inspired to write after hearing his song “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”.
Harrison Bergeron – Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Set in 2081, this bleakly satirical and dystopian sci-fi short totally blew me away and I audibly gasped and laughed which is actually quite amazing given how succinct and quick the pace is.
The Second Bakery Attack – Haruki Murakami
I haven’t actually read any Murakami long from writing but am definitely going to after reading this I would recommend it thoroughly as a way of introducing yourself to his style. Both delicate and bizarre it is a really readable and gripping short about a newly married couple who believe they are cursed. Next on my hit list is his more famous short story Sleep which can be found here.
Flannery O’Connor – A Good Man is Hard to Find
Southern Gothic and Grotesque writing at it’s finest. I don’t really know what to say about this one without giving too much away. If you like a shock, read this.
Richard Yates – Eleven Kinds of Loneliness
My final recommendation unfortunately isn’t online. Richard Yates, along with J D Salinger as unoriginal of a choice as the latter might be, is probably my favourite author. I don’t know what it is about the pair but I see and feel so many similarities in their style and writings not just because of the era and subjects they write about. Without wanting to sound too morbid both tackle the everyday disappointments of ordinary life that anyone who has every felt depressed can relate to, but they tackle them with such wry humour and clarity it is actually refreshing instead of depressive and almost comforting to know this is what everyone feels. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness was they first Richard Yates work I read before reading any of his novels (I am hooked and still working my way through his back catalogue at rapid speed) and I just remember not being able to shut about it and spent about a year following me finishing it, thrusting it into the hands of my friends and insisting they read it. It is what is says on the cover, 11 tales of ordinary people. If you’ve read Revolutionary Road, his most famous work, or seen the film you’ll get a sense of what to expect. Then times it by 11. While there is so much free and available online, I do thoroughly recommend you spend a few pennies on this. It is incredible.