“Won’t You Please, Please Help Me?”


OK… I’m working on creating my list of fifty-two short stories to read in 2014, as part of my annual short story reading project. I have about thirty nailed down already, but I’d like to open the rest of the field up to YOUR suggestions. I’m particularly interested in local (Indiana) authors, indie authors, and women authors. I will read almost any genre, but usually about one-fourth of my annual stories are horror/ghost stories, which may be my favorite kind. Most of the stories I’ve already collected are by well-established authors, so I’d appreciate suggestions for lesser known authors’ stories, and ones that I’ve “never heard of” will be given special consideration. Also, if YOU are someone who has had stories published, tell me your favorite, and I will add it to the list.

In 2013, I’ve posted on about two-thirds of the short stories in my annual project. In 2014, I’ll try to post something on all of them. I won’t be finalizing my list until 12/21, so you have some time to come up with some good ones. I eagerly await your suggestions… 🙂







  1. Megan said,

    December 6, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I admit I haven’t checked to see if you’ve already read this one, but Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” is an extremely short but provocative story that has always stuck with me. It can be read here: http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/webtexts/hour/


    • Jay said,

      December 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Excellent suggestion, Megan. Thank you! (and thanks for sharing the link). I may already have the story in a collection I own, but if not – I’m covered. You might have seen that I read Chopin’s “The Awakening” a few months ago. I thought it was a remarkable book.



  2. Jane said,

    December 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I am almost certain Neil Gaiman has some short stories to read. Are any of them on your 2014 list? I bet they would be worthwhile.


    • Jay said,

      December 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks, Jane. I think you’re right. I dont have any of his yet, but I will add him to the list!


  3. December 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I plan to do some kind of short story project in 2014, so I, too, have been pondering some.
    In the ways of Indiana writers, of course, there is Vonnegut. He has two public domain stories available for free.

    I wrote a post today about a Hawthorne story that is in the horror genre (to a degree). Maybe of interest?

    Of course, Flannery O’Connor short stories are excellent choices if you want a masterful (female) writer. I’m also a fan of Ambrose Bierce’s fiction and his stories are also free. When I get my act together, I will compile my list of short story reads for next year.


    • Jay said,

      December 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve already read almost everything Vonnegut has written – except Sucker’s Portfolio, a relatively recently released book of seven “previously unpublished” works of short fiction. I may mine that book for a story or two.

      I’ve read Rappaccini’s Daughter before too (but I did listen to the audio version linked to on your blog post – thanks so much for sharing that). Maybe I’ll revisit one of his Twice-Told tales this year though.

      I think O’Connor published two collections of stories. The one I read was “A Good Man is Hard to Find (and other stories)” I’ll definitely throw a new to me story of hers onto my list though. She’s great – I had read one of her stories (“Greenleaf”) earlier Inthis year’s project, but I never blogged about it.

      Ambrose Bierce is another excellent suggestion. I’ve only read a three or four of his stories so far, but I liked them all. His “The Man and the Snake” made the cut for my 2013 project.



      • December 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

        I figured you read Vonnegut’s oeuvre. I still haven’t had a chance to listen to the Hawthorne radio play, but I hope to do so this weekend. I sometimes enjoy them more than the regular audiobook versions.

        I have hadn’t a chance to read her short fiction, but I do know Margaret Atwood has a gaggle of collections.

        Also, I’m reading a collection of short stories now by an Ukrainian writer (review in about a week’s time). If I come across any more interesting short stories, I’ll give a holler; unfortunately, most of books are in a storage unit right now and I can’t reference them.


        • Jay said,

          December 8, 2013 at 11:33 am

          Excellent idea re Atwood. She became a favorite for me after The Handmaid’s Tale and The Robber Bride. I’ve only read one of her short stories, though.

          I’ll look forward to hearing about the Ukrainian collection. One of my “suits”next year is going to be “The Russians are Coming!” and I have a dozen stories lined up for that group already. Ukraine could give me my “wild card” for that suit though…


  4. Dale said,

    December 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Jay, I have two lesser known stories that I did not put on my list, but I’m keeping them open for ad hoc or wild cards. One of them is called “Perfection” by Mark Helprin. It sounds a little unusual about an Hasidic Jewish boy and baseball. I’m always looking for baseball. Another one that sounds like it could be very funny is Salman Rushdie’s “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship, Santa Fe, 1492”. Maybe these stories are only lesser known to me.



    • Jay said,

      December 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

      Thanks for the recommendations, Dale. I’ve long wanted to read something by Rushdie – perhaps a short story could be a “gateway drug” for me..

      I recognize the name Mark Helprin from somewhere,but I can’t unite place it yet. I’ll add him to the pool…


  5. Paula Cappa said,

    December 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I might suggest, Jay, the stories of Claude Seignolle or Fred Marryat for authors who aren’t read much anymore. Gertrude Atherton … I plan to discover her work for 2014. And there is this author called “Anonymous” who wrote Horror: A True Tale that I’m curious about.


    • Jay said,

      December 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Thanks, Paula. I’ve added those three to my list of candidates. I see a “Horror: A True Tale” attributed to John Berwick Harwood at one site on line – maybe not the same story you’re talking about?
      P.S. I may plunder your Tuesday’s Tales of Terror for a wild card pick or two next year. 🙂


  6. December 8, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Hi Jay!

    I’m sure you’ve read some Flannery O’Connor already, but she is a classic for a reason. 🙂 “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is excellent. Joyce Carol Oates is also a master of the short story; the one that has stuck with me the most over the years is her “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.” Finally, if you are a fan of older sci-fi/classic horror movie The Thing, you should like the short story it’s based on, “Who Goes There?” by Campbell, and an incredible response from the point of view of the alien itself, “The Things,” by Peter Watts.

    Whew! Hopefully at least one of these will tickle your fancy! Good luck with your project!



    • Jay said,

      December 9, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Hi Taryn,
      Nice to hear from you again. 🙂 I’ve read “A Good Man is Hard to Find (and other stories)” but I know she has another short story collection that I don’t own (and should). I’ll probably pick it up or download so I can use a story or two from that one (I’ve read all the stories in the other, some more than once).

      I’m a big JCO fan too. I have read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” but I own other stories of hers that I have yet to read. And, as a digital subscriber, I have access to the New Yorker’s archive, and I know some of hers havev been published there before.

      I do remember the original “The Thing” (James Arness!), but I was unaware of the short story. I will have to track that one down.

      Thanks for all the suggestions! I will add them to my list of candidates.



  7. Melissa said,

    December 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I’m going to second the Gaiman recommendation and also add The Garden Party by Mansfield and The Yellow Wallpaper by Gilman to my recommendations. Obviously Bradbury, Hemingway and Fitzgerald all have great ones too!


    • Jay said,

      December 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Thanks, Melissa. I think I will definitely pick up a collection of Gaiman’s short stories and use a couple for 2014. I so enjoyed his “Ocean at the End of the Lane” earlier this year.

      The Yellow Wallpaper is already one of my favorites and I’ve read it several times. I think it’s a masterpiece.

      I might revisit Mansfield’s TheGarden Party. I have read that one before, but it was probably more than 20 years ago when I was more of a literary ignoramus. Last year I read her story, “Her First Ball” for my Nora Library discussion group. I was actually the discussion leader for that one and we had a good discussion. It’s really short, but you should check it out sometime if you don’t already know it.

      Bradbury, Hemingway and FSF all deserve a place in my crowded schedule. I included four Bradbury stories this year, which may have been a little heavy (for this project, anyway)

      Thanks for all the recommendations!



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