Join me for my 2014 Short Story Reading Challenge!

“In a novel you might get away with a loose line or two, a saggy paragraph, even a limp chapter. But in the … short story, the beginning and end are precisely anchored tent poles, and what lies between must pull so taut it twangs.”

– Geraldine Brooks

Only one week to go in 2013, so it’s time to set up my (4th) annual short story reading project, “Project: Deal Me In!” (aka DMI2014) I’ve gone through my heaps of anthologies and friends’ recommendations to come up with 48 stories to read next year, dividing them into “suits” and assigning them each to a card in a standard deck of paying cards, leaving four open spaces for a “deuces wild” element. That makes 52 stories total. One per week. On a certain day each week (I prefer Saturday mornings), I’ll draw a card to determine which story I will read that week. Pretty easy, huh? My selections are listed at the bottom of this post. I included only three past favorites this year, and have 23(!) authors I have never read before. What do you think of my choices? Do you know of a story you’d like to suggest that I read as one of my wild cards? Let me know, I’m happy to be guided…

BUT… What I’d really like to say is… “Why don’t you join me in this challenge in 2014?” (picking your own 52 stories, of course!) Let’s face it, it’s a much less onerous reading assignment than almost any other challenge you’ll find out in the blogosphere. One short story a week? Come on, anybody can do that, right!? All you need is a deck of cards, a short story anthology or two (or a public library, or an Internet connection) and a little imagination. There are hundreds (thousands?) of great short stories in the public domain too. I’ll share a few links below. Have a busy month or two and fall behind? Big deal. With short stories you can catch up in just a couple hours. Why not play along? It’s almost crazy if you don’t! 🙂 Dale at Mirror With Clouds joined me last year and will be doing so again this year (see his 2014 list), but the more the merrier, right?

I’ll be creating a separate page for this “challenge” in the next week or so, but if you’d like participate, leave a comment here with your blog’s url, and I’ll link to you on that page, and also link – on my weekly post – to any weekly DMI2014 posts you make.

My Prior Years:




My Stories for 2014:

Note: As the year progresses, I’ll note which week the story’s card was drawn and add a link to my post (if I write one) specifically about the story.

Hearts (stories by female authors)

A – “Meneseteung” by Alice Munro (week 27)
2 – Wild “The Garden” by Joanna Parypinski (week 25)
3 – “Bear Dance” by Edina Doci (week 44)
4 – “From Brussels to Ottignies” by Monica Westeren (week 12)
5 – “Class of 1990” by Rebecca Emin (week 33)
6 – “Hydraulic” by Ekaterina Sedia (week 10)
7 – “Fado” by Katherine Vaz (week 46)
8 – “The Last Speaker of the Language” by Carol Anshaw (week 50)
9 – “Axis” by Alice Munro (week 29)
10- “North Country” by Roxane Gay (week 20)
J – “Diem Perdidi” by Julie Otsuka (week 5)
Q – “The Other Place” by Mary Gaitskill (week 23)
K – “Undressing the Vanity Dolls” by Katherine Vaz (week 14)

Spades (mostly darker stories)

A – “A Stone Cast Into Stillness” by Maurice Broaddus
2 – Wild “Dark Cloud Rising” by Marianne Halbert (week 13)
3 – “Beautiful Monsters” by Eric Puchner (week 26)
4 – “The Hungry House” by Robert Bloch (week 8)
5 – “The Eyes” by Edith Wharton (week 49)
6 – “Mrs. Bullfrog” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (week 16)
7 – “The Autopsy” by Michael Shea (week 9)
8 – “Tenth of December” by George Saunders (week 21)
9 – “That in Aleppo Once…” by Vladimir Nabokov (week 28)
10- “The Redfield Girls” by Laird Barron (week 32)
J – “Miracle Polish” by Steven Milhauser (week 1)
Q – “The Half-Skinned Steer” by Annie Proulx (week 35)
K – “It’s a Good Life” by Jerome Bixby

Diamonds (stories recommended by others)

A – “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin (week 40)
2 – Wild – “Amphetamine Twitch” by Frank Bill (week 2)
3 – “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Andre Gide (week 34)
4 – “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury (week 17)
5 – “Perfection” by Mark Helprin (week 37)
6 – “Beyond the Wall” by Ambrose Bierce (week 45)
7 – “The Business of Madame Jahn” by Vincent O’Sullivan (week 38)
8 – “Mateo Falcone” by Prosper Merimee (week 47)
9 – “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship” by Salman Rushdie (week 43)
10- “The White Wolf and the Spirit Hunter” by Frederick Marryat (week 15)
J – “The Things” by Peter Watts (week 6)
Q – “The Two Sams” by Glen Hirshberg (week 7)
K – “The Bell in the Fog” by Gertrude Atherton (week 31)

Clubs (“The Russians are Coming!”)

A – “The Cloak” by Nikolai Gogol (week 36)
2 – WILD “The Nose” by Nokolai Gogol (week 48)
3 – “The Bet” by Anton Chekhov (week 30)
4 – “God Sees the Truth but Waits” Leo Tolstoy (week 39)
5 – “The Shades: A Fantasy” by Vladimir Korlenko (week 42)
6 – “The Christmas Tree and the Wedding” by Fyodor Dostoevsky (week 3)
7 – “Lazarus” by L.N. Andreyev (week 11)
8 – “The Outrage: a True Story” by Alexander Kuprin (week 22)
9 – “St. John’s Eve” by Nikolai Gogol (week 19)
10- “Her Lover” by Maxim Gorky (week 24)
J – “The Black Monk” by Anton Chekhov (week 18)
Q – “The Queen of Spades” by Alexander Pushkin (week 41)
K – “Twenty-Six and One” by Maxim Gorky (week 4)

Sources: The Best American Short Stories of 2012, Public Domain/Linked by Fellow Bloggers, Dark Futures: Tales of SF Dystopia, Great Short Stories of the World, The Meantime: Nine Short Stories from Brussels, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, The Best American Short Stories of the Century, Twenty-Six and One and Other Stories, Haunted Legends anthology, A Knowing Look and Other Stories, and “others”… 🙂

Classic Horror Stories: short story of the day
EastoftheWeb’s short story of the day:
TheLibrary of America’s short story of the week archive:

These links alone would provide you with enough FREE short stories to do this project for years, and there are MANY other sites if you look around a bit. There’s even a short stories app for the iPhone (also free).