Friday, May 16, 2014

Entry # 213 - Short Stories with Strong Plots

Rehoboth Beach, DE - SUNRISE - May 11, 2014
Recently I sent an email to fellow writer and teacher, Paul Hanstedt and I asked him what he considered the three best stories he'd read, in terms of "strong plots" to be admired and studied. He responded by posting the question on Facebook and we've already received more than 50 suggestions.  I agreed to put together a list and post it for anyone who would like some short story readings to get their summer rolling. Actually there are hundreds of stories that should be on this list. As soon as I began to put it together I thought of so many contemporary writers whose work deserves to be on this list.  For example:  Lee K. Abbott, Rick Bass, Gina Berriault, Amy Bloom, K. L. Cook, Pinckney Benedict, Amy Hempel, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Yasunari Kawabata, Barry Lopez,  Elizabeth Spencer, Peter Taylor, Wells Tower, William Trevor, Tim Winton, Joyce Carol Oates, and many many others. So consider this list for what it is - a rapid response from generous readers, writers, and teachers who gave an instant response. I was reminded of many I'd forgotten and some I've never read so I have put them on my summer reading list - to be admired and studied. 

So Here Is A List of Readers & Writers Suggestions of Short Stories with Strong Plots - Some of which break all the rules for conventional plot structure but do it in such a way that writers admire the result.  Hope this is mostly free of errors. Some were suggested multiple times.  Enjoy.  And feel free to drop an email to suggest additional stories for this list.  Email:

James Baldwin - Sonny's Blues

Barthelme - The School

Andrea Barrett - The Littoral Zone

Richard Bausch - All the Way to Flagstaff

Bradbury - A Sound of Thunder, All Summer in A Day, There Will Come Soft Rains

Kevin Brockmaier - The Ceiling

Robert Olen Butler -Jealous Husband Returns as a Parrot

Raymond Carver - Cathedral

Samantha Chang - The Unforgetting

John Cheever - Good Bye My Brother

Chekhov - Gooseberries

Julio Cortazar - Continuity of Parks

Andre Dubus - A Father's Story

Richard Ford - Rock Springs

Tim Gautreaux - Little Frogs in A Ditch

Joe Geha - Letters from Phoenix

Gordimer - Some are Born to Sweet Delight

Lauren Groff - Delicate Edible Bird

Hemingway - The Short Happy Life of Francis Mccomber, Hills Like White Elephants

Christie Hodgens - Elegies for the Brokenhearted

Shirley Jackson - The Lottery

James Joyce - The Dead

Jhumpa Lahiri - A Temporary Matter

Ben Marcus - The Moors

Elizabeth McCracken - Some Have Entertained Angels, Unaware, The Goings-On of the World, Thunderstruck

Lorrie Moore - People Like That Are the Only Ones Here, Canonical Babbling at Reed Onk, stories from Birds of America & from Bark (Debarking)

Alice Munro - Vandals

Flannery O'Connor - The Turkey, A Good Man is Hard to Find, Revelation

Julie Orringer - The Isabel Fish from How to Breathe Under Water

Cynthia Orzik - The Shawl

George Saunders - Sea Oak, The Falls, The Perfect Gerbil

Jim Shepard - Love and Hydrogen

Leslie Marmon Silko - The Man to Send Rain Clouds, Yellow Woman, Storyteller

June Spense - Missing Woman

Elizabeth Tallent - No One's A Mystery

Vonnegut - The Package, Harrison Bergeron

Will Weaver - A Gravestone Made of Wheat

Eudora Welty - Why I Live at the Post Office

Tobias Wolf - In the Garden of North American
Wolf - A Bullet to the Brain
Richard Yates - A Really Good Jazz Piano

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Me - Taking A Break from Writing - May 12, 2014
About Jan Bowman
Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, Jan's stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, and a Pen/O’Henry award.  Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers.
A recent story was a finalist for the 2013 Broad River Review RASH Award for Fiction, another story was a 2013 finalist in the Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest.  Jan’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others.   She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection, Mermaids & Other Stories.  She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at: or  visit blog:

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