Most Inspiring Short Stories/Collections That You Have Read?

DanielSTJ

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For me, the game-changers were Hemingway's Complete Short Stories, When Mortals Sleep (Kurt Vonnegut), A Model World (Michael Chabon), Bedside Book of Famous French Stories-- an anthology and so forth.

Tell me more about what has inspired you? Where is everyone at on this front?
 
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The collection that inspired me to start writing short fiction was Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. Other collections that have left their mark include Swimming Lessons and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag (Rohinton Mistry), All the Time in the World (E.L. Doctorow), and Tenth of December (George Saunders).
 

Kjbartolotta

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Kingdom of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner.

Fifth Head of Cerberus
by Gene Wolfe, which is three linked novellas so if that doesn't count swap it out for Innocents Abroad.

Any Ursula K. LeGuin collection you care to mention.

And The Dubliners by James Joyce, which is a boring pick but I'll stand by it.
 
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Lakey

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This is a nice idea for a thread, Daniel. For me:

Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and Other Stories. I go back to it again and again to remind myself just how much mood and intensity can be achieved with such straightforward, unadorned language.

Grace Paley's The Little Disturbances of Man. I haven't read this as many times as I have Jackson - yet - but Paley is a genius of voice.

(It's not for nothing that both of these collections come from the time period in which my novel is set, which increases their relevance and helpfulness and inspiration for me - but they are also just awesome writing.)
 
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Maryn

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Lawrence Block's "Sometimes they Bite" and "Sometimes They Come Back" leap to mind. I'm sure there are science fiction collections, since I once devoured the stuff, but now I can't name specific titles.
 

Conrad Adamson

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Bagombo Snuff Box by Kurt Vonnegut. I read it nine years ago and still have not found other short stories as compelling to me.
 

fenyo

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Panchatantra- It must be one of the oldest short stories collection.

not exactly a collection of short stories, but more like a story within a story within a story.
 

Tocotin

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Red Cavalry and Tales of Odessa by Isaac Babel. I read them when I was still in elementary school and loved them so much that I memorized some of them. Incredibly vivid, disturbing, insightful, full of compassion, and in terms of language, pure poetry.

"No iron can pierce the human heart with such force as a period put in the right place."
 

Lakey

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Tell Me a Riddle, by Tillie Olsen

I just reread this - amazing stuff. I described it in my Goodreads post as part Grace Paley, part Virginia Woolf. Olsen does amazing things with both voice and form - it's marvelously innovative and affecting.
 
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ap123

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I just reread this - amazing stuff. I described it in my Goodreads post as part Grace Paley, part Virginia Woolf. Olsen does amazing things with both voice and form - it's marvelously innovative and affection.

Agreed. It's one of the few books I revisit not because it's calorie-free comfort food, but bc each word, each phrase, is so damned perfect.
 

blacbird

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"Inspiring", for me, often gets synonymous with "intimidating". Stories so good that I know in my bone marrow that I could never write anything so good, and might as well go wash dishes in a sleazy restaurant somewhere. But, a quick list of such:

"The Lottery", Shirley Jackson
"Silent Snow, Secret Snow", Conrad Aiken
"Mr. Arcularis", Conrad Aiken
"The Country of the Blind", H.G. Wells
"Flowers for Algernon", Daniel Keyes (the original Hugo-winning short, not the novel later developed from it.)
"The Nine Billion Names of God", Arthur C. Clarke
"The Dwarf", Ray Bradbury
"Ylla", Ray Bradbury
"The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl", Ray Bradbury
"Afterward". Edith Wharton
"The Garden of Time", J.G. Ballard
"Wine in the Desert", Max Brand
"The Open Window", Saki
"A Touch of Nutmeg Does It". John Collier

caw
 

audibob1

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Hmm... as for classics and/or works written by more famous authors:

The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
William and Mary by Roald Dahl

There are more, but I'll keep it short.

And as for modern day/recently published works...

All the Time in the World by H. L. Fullerton (This one really struck me. I read it two months ago and *still* think about it every week.)
The Good Mothers' Home for Wayward Girls by Izzy Wasserstein (I liked this one so much that I had to go track the author down and email her about it!)
A Head in a Box, or, Implications of Consciousness after Decapitation by Lori Selke (An interesting title and an equally interesting story.)

Again, many more I could list here, but these are my top picks. New classics are being written every day, folks.
 
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Dan Rhys

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From 1966, the Octopussy and Living Daylights collection of short stories by original Bond author Ian Fleming inspired my writing direction because I like how they insightfully take the reader into the everyday life of a double agent, and I realized that I could provide similar insight from my own experience, except in teaching college...which, I assure you, does have its adventurous side :)
 

Ari Meermans

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For me, it's less about collections and anthologies than the amazement at what can be made with the short form. There are stories that can hurt my heart with their beauty and with their pain.

As far as a collection goes, George R. R. Martin's Dreamsongs: Volume 1 contains amazing stories like "A Song for Lya", "Bitterblooms", "And Seven Times Never Kill Man", and "This Tower of Ashes".

Individual stories I go back to time and again:

"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin
"A Song for Lya", George R. R. Martin
"Hills Like White Elephants", Ernest Hemingway
"The Lottery", Shirley Jackson
"A Jury of Her Peers", Susan Glaspell
 

mafiaking1936

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"The Last Leaf" by O. Henry, "Seed Stock" and "Passage for a Piano" by Frank Herbert, and more recently, "Tough Times All Over" by Joe Abercrombie.
 

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"North American Lake Monsters," by Nathan Ballingrud.

Deeply, deeply affecting and visceral stories told with a deliberate, but lyrical hand.
 

SundryHen

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A bit mainstream, but I did enjoy and found quite inspirational, any Stephen King short story collection.
Also, I loved: Filip David's "A Well in a Dark Forest", "Notes of the Real and Unreal", "Fire Prince".
 

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The Daylight and the Dust, by Janet Frame -small-town new Zealand to inner-city London. A real find.
October People, Ray Bradbury, intelligence at work.
 

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Tell Tale by Jeffrey Archer
Every short story collection by Neil Gaiman
 

CMore_Glass

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Tell Tale by Jeffrey Archer
Every short story collection by Neil Gaiman
Completely agree. I love all of Neil Gaiman's short stories too. I love the one about the woman who finds a genie in a lamp. I read that one years ago, but I still think about it often.