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  #1  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:35 AM
limegreen limegreen is offline
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Short stories high school students should read

I'm new here, but I've been lurking long enough to respect the literary breadth of the Dopers. I'm a high school English teacher in a small school, and our literature books are old and boring. With the state in debt, there is no money for new texts, but I'm trying to put together some short stories that are thought-provoking, important, classic....
What are your suggestions? Stories that are in the public domain would be great, as I could print them out.
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  #2  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:38 AM
GrandWino GrandWino is offline
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"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

Last edited by GrandWino; 06-23-2010 at 09:38 AM..
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  #3  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:42 AM
silenus silenus is online now
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"Nightfall" - Isaac Asimov

"There Will Come Soft Rains" - Ray Bradbury

The Cold Equations" - Tom Godwin
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  #4  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:42 AM
limegreen limegreen is offline
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That's definitely one on the list. And Lovecraft's Dagon.

Last edited by limegreen; 06-23-2010 at 09:43 AM.. Reason: punctuation is good./.,
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  #5  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:48 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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I always liked Guy de Maupassant's The Necklace and O Henry's The Ransom of Red Chief.

Edited to add, Asimov's The Last Question, but it's not public domain.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 06-23-2010 at 09:50 AM..
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  #6  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:50 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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The Most Dangerous Game

It's a classic for a reason.
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  #7  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:52 AM
Bootis Bootis is offline
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Cathedral, or many others by Raymond Carver.

The Diamond As Big As The Ritz
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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  #8  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:54 AM
FriarTed FriarTed is offline
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Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart
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  #9  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:02 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

"A Logic Named Joe" by Murray Leinster.
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  #10  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:06 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman.

No, it's not exactly a "classic" and it's probably not "important" at all, but it's a great, fun read, and it's wonderfully educational, using easily understood examples of classic logical fallacies. The narrator has a strong voice, and the writer makes some interesting word choices and sentence structures, which I think makes it interesting from a lit standpoint, and I'm all for increasing the critical thinking and logic exposure to high schoolers, even if they won't formally study these things until college.

And it's free.
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  #11  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:10 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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PD stories:

"The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton. Perfect for class discussion, too.
Anything by Poe. "The Purloined Letter" might be good
"The Birth-Mark" by Hawthorne
"The Problem of Cell 13" by Jacques Futrelle.
"The Hands of Mr. Ottermole" by Thomas Burke -- one of the greatest mystery short stories ever written (though it's still be under copyright).
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  #12  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:14 AM
Ace309 Ace309 is offline
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Stephen King, "The Last Rung on the Ladder." It's more on the thought-provoking end than classic or important, but it includes some technical points worth discussing (characterization and such) and will also, with any luck, be appropriately unsettling.
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  #13  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:15 AM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Cynthia Ozick - The Shawl
John Cheever - The Swimmer
Washington Irving - Rip Van Winkle
Tim O'Brien - The Things They Carried
Franz Kafka - The Metamorphosis (not a short story, but short fiction)
Joyce Carol Oates - Where are you going, where have you been
DH Lawrence - The Rocking Horse Winner
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  #14  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:19 AM
banjoDavid banjoDavid is offline
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Ernest Hemingway "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"
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  #15  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:24 AM
Spoons Spoons is offline
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First that comes to mind is Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado"; and "After Forty Years," by (I believe) O. Henry.

I'd also recommend looking into Stephen Leacock. "My Financial Career" is fun, but he wrote a number of other stories that would be suitable. You may also wish to try a chapter or two from his Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town--this is generally regarded as a novel, but while the same characters appear in each chapter, each chapter can be regarded as a separate story.

The nice thing about Leacock is that his stuff was written in the early 20th century, and is now in the public domain. You can read and download the text for free at the Gutenberg Project.

Last edited by Spoons; 06-23-2010 at 10:28 AM..
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  #16  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:02 AM
MPB in Salt Lake MPB in Salt Lake is offline
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Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut is a favorite of mine..........
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  #17  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:13 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
"Nightfall" - Isaac Asimov

"There Will Come Soft Rains" - Ray Bradbury
Also by Asimov: "The Fun They Had"

Also by Bradbury: "All Summer in a Day" and "The Veldt".

All of these actually appeared in my reading textbooks as a kid. Read "The Veldt" in junior high, but the other two were in elementary school readers.
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  #18  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:20 AM
pancakes3 pancakes3 is offline
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flowers for algernon
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  #19  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:23 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", by James Thurber. Loads of critical analysis and study guides online, as well.
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  #20  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:26 AM
Jeep's Phoenix Jeep's Phoenix is offline
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"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner...this was used in my AP English class.
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  #21  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:34 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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"I, Robot" by Cory Doctorow. This is a more modern selection. Doctorow publishes often under a Creative Commons license so the works can be used freely in a noncommercial sense.

Do you want recommendations for novels as well? Or plays?
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  #22  
Old 06-23-2010, 11:44 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Originally Posted by Jeep's Phoenix View Post
"A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner...this was used in my AP English class.
Also took AP English as a HS senior, and "A Rose for Emily" was in the reader. It's a popular enough story to have been in several anthologies, but I'm wondering if we used the same book.

Did yours also have Woody Allen's "The Kugelmass Episode"? That was a great story to break up the usual "safe" English-class monotony.

Last edited by bordelond; 06-23-2010 at 11:44 AM..
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  #23  
Old 06-23-2010, 12:08 PM
MPB in Salt Lake MPB in Salt Lake is offline
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Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", by James Thurber. Loads of critical analysis and study guides online, as well.
The Catbird Seat is also a great story, one of Thurber's best..........
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  #24  
Old 06-23-2010, 12:10 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is online now
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Wings out of Shadow--sci fi, with a neat historical twist.

And I'll second "The Most Dangerous Game".
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  #25  
Old 06-23-2010, 12:19 PM
limegreen limegreen is offline
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No novel recommendations -- I have several novels we study. Just looking for short stories to fill in. These are all great ideas -- thank you all so much -- keep them coming! I'm reading as fast as I can!
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  #26  
Old 06-23-2010, 12:30 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Some short stories are so well-known that, as you go through life, you're quite probably going to encounter references and allusions to them, so it behooves an educated person to have read them. (Plus, with some of them, it's better to read the story before you encounter spoilers.) I'd say stories of this kind include
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut
"A Rose For Emily" by William Faulkner (cite on this one )
"The Gifts of the Magi" by O Henry
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber
"The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs
and maybe some of Poe's.

They ought to read something by Hemingway, maybe "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber."

Saki wrote some great, fun short stories, and high school age is a good time to read him.

I remember reading and liking "First Confession" by Frank O'Connor in high school, even though I'm not Catholic.

They're not "literary," and don't have to be taught so much as enjoyed, but it might be worth having them read one of the Sherlock Holmes stories—just for fun, or as an example of the time when short stories were published and read as popular entertainment.
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  #27  
Old 06-23-2010, 12:37 PM
drillrod drillrod is online now
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I'm not sure how appropriate it might be for a High School class, but Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx.
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  #28  
Old 06-23-2010, 12:42 PM
DrCube DrCube is online now
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Interestingly, neither of my two favorite short story writers have been mentioned. So I will recommend:

Ring Lardner, Haircut

JD Salinger, For Esmee, With Love And Squalor

Actually, pretty much anything by these guys is pure gold, and well-suited for high-school literature classes. Give them "Nine Stories" by Salinger and you'll be set for the whole semester.

PS I second Harrison Bergeron too!

PPS Ring Lardner wrote right around the cutoff time for modern copyrights. So some of his stuff might be public domain. I know Salinger and Vonnegut aren't.

Last edited by DrCube; 06-23-2010 at 12:45 PM..
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  #29  
Old 06-23-2010, 12:47 PM
Greg Charles Greg Charles is offline
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"For Esme With Love and Squalor", one of the best from JD Salinger's Nine Stories and one of the most accessible (by which I mean it doesn't have a "what the hell just happened there?" ending).
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  #30  
Old 06-23-2010, 01:03 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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"She Unnames Them" by Ursula K. LeGuin
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  #31  
Old 06-23-2010, 01:08 PM
Baker Baker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spoons View Post
First that comes to mind is Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado"; and "After Forty Years," by (I believe) O. Henry.
I think the latter story is "After Twenty Years"

But I agree that it's a great story.

I would suggest "The Interlopers", or "The Toys of Peace" by Saki, or H.H. Munro.
Actually, almost any of his stories are good.

"The Man Who Traveled in Elephants" by Robert Heinlein. Never fails to make me tear up, when the veterans are passing the review stand.
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  #32  
Old 06-23-2010, 01:32 PM
davey77 davey77 is offline
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"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce was an absolute favorite of mine.
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  #33  
Old 06-23-2010, 03:28 PM
In Winnipeg In Winnipeg is offline
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Paul's Case - Willa Cather http://www.shsu.edu/~eng_wpf/authors...Pauls-Case.htm
Araby - James Joyce http://www.readprint.com/work-875/Araby-James-Joyce
The Man Who Would Be King - Rudyard Kipling http://www.readprint.com/work-4290/T...udyard-Kipling

These can all be found online.

Our Father Who Art in Heaven - Valentin Katayev

A little harder to track down (still under copyright perhaps?), but definitely rewarding.
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  #34  
Old 06-23-2010, 03:43 PM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Saki wrote some great, fun short stories, and high school age is a good time to read.
Saki! Man, I used to love his stuff - I even went by "Clovis Sangrail" on a few message boards for several years. And he's in Project Gutenberg! http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/s#a152

Lousy WWI, killing one of the great literary minds of England.

ETA: Speaking of WW1, your kids should certainly read Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" - for my money, the finest war poem ever written. http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html. Plus, 10,000 Maniacs made it into a neat pop song!

Last edited by Mr. Excellent; 06-23-2010 at 03:45 PM..
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  #35  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:00 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Project Gutenberg Australia

Check out Abraham Merritt for some lost world science fiction. the X Men cartoon ripped off a lot of his material and didn't credit him.

Read Henry Lawson for some excellent humorous Australia living. The Loaded Dog is my favorite story in Joe Wilson and His Mates. I think of Henry Lawson as similar to America's Mark Twain only better.

There are many expedition accounts for Australia since it's settlement as a penal colony and I found all of the many I read very interesting. There is some hardships in the accounts you don't know how any people made it through.
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  #36  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:03 PM
Spoons Spoons is offline
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Originally Posted by Baker View Post
I think the latter story is "After Twenty Years"

But I agree that it's a great story.
D'oh! You're right. I guess I was thinking of when I read it--which was probably about forty years ago now. At any rate, thanks again.
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  #37  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:09 PM
Sateryn76 Sateryn76 is online now
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Hijack question -

Does copyright cover you buying, say, a Stephen King book of short stories, copying the story and using it in class? If so, that's lame. I see nothing harmful in using literature of any kind for educational purposes.
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  #38  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:17 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Originally Posted by Sateryn76 View Post
Hijack question -

Does copyright cover you buying, say, a Stephen King book of short stories, copying the story and using it in class? If so, that's lame. I see nothing harmful in using literature of any kind for educational purposes.
That's beyond fair use.
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  #39  
Old 06-23-2010, 05:43 PM
ProudlyDefiant ProudlyDefiant is offline
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I also teach high school English in a small district (we have about 30 graduating seniors per year). For the past two years, I did not use a textbook as we didn't technically have one for the freshmen and the junior book was just awful by my standards. So I cobbled together a list of short stories using the internet, old textbooks both from the school and my collection, and various anthologies. My core freshman short story unit consists of:

The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell
The Cask of Amontillado, by Poe
The Adventure of the Speckled Band, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Birds, by Daphne Du Maurier
The Interlopers, by Saki
A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury
Poison, by Roald Dahl
The Scarlet Ibis, by James Hurst
Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut
The Bass, the River and Sheila Mant, by WD Wetherall

I also really like:

The Book of Sand, by Jorge Luis Borges
The Cold Equations, by Tom Godwin
The Necklace, by Guy de Maupassant
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, by James Thurber
A Rose for Emily, by William Faulkner
Everyday Use, by Alice Walker
Winter Dreams, by Fitzgerald
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce

For freshmen, I like to focus on stories with entertaining, suspenseful storylines with clear examples of literary techniques and concepts: Types of conflict, plot diagram, points of view, irony, theme, and symbolism. I always start of the year with "The Most Dangerous Game" because it is very, very easy to see the progression of plot in that story, the conflicts are clearly defined, and the theme is fairly transparent. Plus it's just a really fun read with some good shocks and scares.

I'm getting new textbooks this fall that I handpicked- I'm so glad to have a good book that does so much of the organizing for me (not to mention it saves me time and paper that the kids each get a book instead of me writing and copying endless worksheets and handouts), but I will still supplement/substitute stories.
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  #40  
Old 06-23-2010, 06:01 PM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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Heavy Set by Ray Bradbury, the scariest story ever written in which nothing happens. Hard to find anthologised - originally from Playboy October 1964. Aside - has anyone ever recognised Playboy's contribution to short form fiction? I genuinely used to read it for the articles and short stories.

My Old Man by Ernest Hemingway. I get all teary whenever I think of the last few lines. The narrator's father, a jockey, has died in an accident and Joey overhears a conversation about his father and Hemingway gives us this as the last lines:

And George Gardner looked at me to see if I'd heard and I had all right and he said, "Don't you listen to what those bums said, Joe. Your old man was one swell guy."

But I don't know. Seems like when they get started they don't leave a guy nothing.

Last edited by don't ask; 06-23-2010 at 06:02 PM..
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  #41  
Old 06-23-2010, 06:53 PM
Satchmo Satchmo is offline
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The Verger by Somerset Maugham. Very short, but very good.
I always thought it was by O. Henry, but I was wrong.
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  #42  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:07 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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More votes for Harrison Bergeron, Nightfall, The Cold Equations.

Thurber, The Figgerin' of Aunt Wilma

Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher

Ray Bradbury, Usher II

H.G. Wells, The Door in the Wall

Stephen Vincent Benét, By the Waters of Babylon
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  #43  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:14 PM
JohnGalt JohnGalt is offline
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Conrad Aiken's Secret Snow, Silent Snow will either fascinate them or freak them out - especially since it's about a school-age boy.

See if you can find a video of the Night Gallery version, with Orson Welles narrating (although they changed the ending).
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  #44  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:44 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Originally Posted by davey77 View Post
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce was an absolute favorite of mine.
As I was scrolling down this thread and reading all the entries, I was wondering if I would get to the end without the mention of this story. Thanks for not disapointing me.

It's old, classic, and a must read.
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  #45  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:01 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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Repent Harlequin! Said the TickTock Man, by Harlan Ellison
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  #46  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:03 PM
Meyer6 Meyer6 is offline
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I really enjoyed The Painted Door by Sinclair Ross when I was in high school. It was kind of a thinker. I think it's probably public domain but I'm not sure how to find out (it's Canadian so I'm not sure what rules apply) - in any case there is a full pdf of it here.

I am tempted to second Brokeback Mountain, as I read that on my own in high school (long before the movie) and it really stayed with me, but I suspect that there might be some upset kids/parents on that one.
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  #47  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:12 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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Many very, very good ones have already been mentioned.


Good ones that are undoubtedly in the public domain:


1) Any of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. I'll nominate my favorite, The Musgrave Ritual. But The Red-Headed League works well for kids.

2) What Men Live By by Leo Tolstoy

3) Any O. Henry story, but you can't go wrong with The Ransom of Red Chief.

4) The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy



Stories that probably are NOT in the public domain:

1) Answer by Frederic Brown (very short and very effective)

2) A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
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  #48  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:16 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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"The Scarlatti Tilt" by Richard Brautigan. A full story in two sentences and under 30 words.
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  #49  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:20 PM
Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares is offline
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Lots of great suggestions so far. I'd second The Most Dangerous Game, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, and A Good Man Is Hard to Find. I personally like short stories with tension and twist endings. I would add:

Saki - The Open Window

Nathaniel Hawthorne - Rappaccini's Daughter

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Nosotros, No (if you can find an English translation. I haven't been able to find one)
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  #50  
Old 06-23-2010, 10:21 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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Oh, I just referenced another O. Henry story in another post, "The Caballero's Way." It's pretty atypical of his work; it doesn't really have a mind-bending twist ending, although it may have looked like one when he wrote it in 1907. Plus, the nasty villain of the story took on a new life as a Zorro-like hero at the hands of other writers and media. It was the Cisco Kid.
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