I had started this post last night but my laptop decided to shut down during the middle of the night. Rude. Who shuts down their computers anymore? No one. Different topic for a different day.
Short stories are great because they’re short. Just kidding. But seriously. Despite them being a quick read, short stories can still take you away to a different time and place. I remember reading a handful of short stories in my senior English class and loving all of them. Recommending short stories is a safe thing to do because then people don’t hate you for pressuring them to waste their life reading something that they might end up not liking. This way, they only have to read 30 or 40 pages max. If they can’t do that, then maybe they can’t read and they’re embarrassed to tell people. A likely scenario.
So here’s a list of some of my favorite short stories and your summer reading list. You’re welcome.
“A&P” by John Updike. I like this story a lot. It takes place during the summer in the grocery store, A&P. Unfortunately A&P’s don’t exist anymore, and haven’t since the 1970’s. Still, I find this story super relatable. The main character, Sammy works as a cashier at the store, and as the reader, we hear his entire inner monologue when a bunch of bathing suit-clad girls walk into the store. Definitely a classic.
“Quitter’s Inc.” by Stephen King. I didn’t even realize this story was written by Mr. King until I recently looked it up. No wonder I like it so much. It’s one of the most creative short stories I’ve read, for sure. The story is about a man named Dick Morrison who has a smoking problem. He meets one of his old college roommates who advises him to go to Quitter’s Inc. They have a 98% success rate at helping people kick their addictions. Unfortunately their methods are not typical and Dick finds himself trapped in a scary game that he can only get out of by quitting his bad habit. I don’t want to give too much of it away, but if you’re only going to read one of these short stories, this would be my top suggestion.
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t usually go for futuristic stories, but this one is awesome. Obviously, it’s the year 2081 and because of the additional Amendments to the Constitution (211, 212, 213) no American can be more stupid, ugly, weak, or slower than anyone else. Everyone is perfectly equal. The story takes place in the living room of George and Hazel Bergeron. George is an intelligent man, but the government makes him wear a radio that sends noise through it every so often to interrupt his thoughts, making him have average intelligence. Everyone that has been born with some kind of outstanding characteristic is given a handicap. The ballerinas that George and Hazel watch on TV are weighted down as to not make anyone too graceful and are masked as to not show their beauty. The story is so creative and original. I would recommend buying “Welcome to the Monkey House” by Kurt Vonnegut because it’s full of crazy cool stories like this one.
“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. The main character, Sanger Rainsford, is planning a trip to Rio to hunt a jaguar. Being a big game hunter, he’s confident and sure of himself that this will be a successful trip. Traveling by yacht, Sanger ends up falling overboard during the night and being unable to catch up to the boat. He swims to the nearest Caribbean island where he meets General Zaroff, another game hunter. Zaroff tells Sanger about how he has become bored of hunting wild animals because it no longer challenges him. He confides in Sanger and tells him the reason why he moved to the island–to hunt shipwrecked sailors and kill them. If they can elude his hunting dogs for 3 days, he would let them go. Zaroff asked Sanger if he wanted to join him in the hunting of other men. Appalled, Sanger said no. Thus making him the hunted instead of the hunter in the most dangerous game he’s ever played.
“Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin. Chopin’s work is crazy controversial for the time that she wrote it in the 1890’s. She wrote about women committing suicide, and in the case of “Desiree’s Baby”, people who had black relatives in their family. The story takes place in Creole Louisiana. Desiree is the adopted daughter of the wealthy Monsieur and Madame Valmonde’ and is courted by another man of great wealth named Armond. They love one another deeply and eventually have a child. People who see the baby sense something unusual about it. Eventually they realize that the baby is the same color as a “quadroon” (one quarter African). Armand immediately blames the baby’s color on Desiree’s unknown roots. It’s a sad story, but a good one.
By now you guys probably know how well read and smart I am. If you read all of these short stories, you’ll catch up to me in no time. Lot’s o’ love.