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Short Fiction You've Never Read and Probably Should

There's a plethora of rich, short, and famed texts certainly worth a read.

By Marianna MichaelPublished 6 years ago 2 min read

In 2,232 words, Vilma Howard tells the tale of Belle—the woman with a scar on her finger.

'Belle'—Vilma Howard

It was first published in the Spring of 1955 and published in The Paris Review, just two years after she had published "After The War"—two pages of verse in the same publication.

"Belle" is both a poetic and tranquil story that feels like a classically written tale, and yet it's not as famed as many of the same genre.

"She liked best to talk to the instruments and have them talk back. When they really understood one another, the talking was good. And next she liked it when everybody all around would get to feeling just the way she felt. She always knew when she reached them, and she could make them feel any way she wanted to, from low-down and blue to easy and glad. And that was good because Belle always sang according to how she felt and would know that everybody was feeling the same way."

'Barbie-Q'—Sandra Cisneros

American writer Sandra Cisneros's short story "Barbie-Q" looks at several things, but the portrayal of women in society is one of its biggest themes. It's a piece of prose that takes place on the streets, and whilst the main focus seems to be on Barbie dolls, it's a tale somewhat more complex. The piece explores materialism, consumerism and the reality of flaws and idealistic beauty standards.

'The Pearl'—John Steinbeck

Though slightly longer and thus considered to be a novella/novel; Steinbeck's 1947 publication began as a film script. It consequently got made into a film by RKO after the release of the short story version.

Materialism, gluttony, fate, and determination are at the heart of this retelling of a Mexican folktale written beautifully by Steinbeck.

“They had made songs to the fishes, to the sea in anger and to the sea in calm, to the light and the dark and the sun and the moon, and the songs were all in Kino and in his people – every song that had ever been made, even the ones forgotten.”

'Starlight'—Ann Beattie

Beattie imagines the thoughts of First Lady Pat Nixon as she writes what's in fact an adaptation of sections from her book Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life. It's based on fact, and therefore somewhat factual, but there's enough fiction to it making it one that can be read by anyone who may not be aware of Nixon or the surrounding history .

In an interview with The New Yorker, Beattie said:

"I think I became interested in how women shape their identities, how adversity anticipates or conditions the ways in which a person decides to shape her public self, which, ultimately, may be quite different from her private self. "

The short story can also be seen as gateway into reading the entire book which is significantly longer. Nevertheless, "Starlight" is a zestful piece that can be read and enjoyed over a coffee.

'The Whore of Mensa'—Woody Allen

There is often a love/hate relationship with the works, and specifically of the written work of Woody Allen; but "The Whore of Mensa" is undoubtedly clever. This 1974 story follows private investigator Kaiser Lupowitz in search of an intellectual prostitute.

"I opened it, and standing there was a young redhead who was packed into her slacks like two big scoops of vanilla ice cream."

Dialogue-heavy, small twists, a simple plot to follow and the humour one would expect from this auteur- It's a great quick-read.

'Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast'—Oscar Wilde

As anyone familiar with the works of Oscar Wilde would expect, this is a witty and well-crafted read. It's a book that feels current regardless of year, and one that feels it should be revisited regularly. That's quite easy considering "Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast" is made up of quotations, statements, small explorations and insights.

'It would be unfair to expect other people to be as remarkable as oneself'

It is also part of the Little Black Classics range.


About the Creator

Marianna Michael

Fashion-Writer, screenwriting, Art-Directing, daydreaming and Caffeine-consuming.

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