The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman should probably be on the list. Some stuff by Dashiel Hamett Continental Op series would probably be a good addition. I can’t think of the story names off the top of my head, unfortunately.
Well, if you’re sticking to literary, highbrow type stuff, Gigi’s already mentioned both “A Rose for Emily” and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” I’d have to toss a coin to decide between those two. Jack London’s “Love of Life” and possibly “The Apostate” also need serious consideration.
If you’re going to include popular material, I’d strongly advise Larry Niven’s “All the Myriad Ways.” Although it’s technically science fiction, this is possibly the creepiest horror story I’ve ever read.
Yup yup!! She ties with Jane Austen for my collections to take to a desert island. It would take my years to see all the symbols, even the ones she didn’t mean as symbols. There was some quote she had about making a brown hat brown: it had to be some color and she chose brown, case closed. Nothing to read into it.
Any ‘best ever short story’ list has to include Damon Runyon. I nominate ‘The Idyll Of Miss Sarah Brown’.
And maybe Jeffrey Deaver’s short story collection, ‘Twisted’, is so recent that one might argue his work hasn’t yet proved it can stand the test of time. But it’s a brilliant collection of stories, demonstrating a wide range of story telling talents.
Daniel Keyes. (I know that even without getting up and walking across to the bookshelves. I am such a nerd.)
Not “Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation”? C’mon, it has the greatest title ever, taken from Frank J. Tipler’s famous paper about the frame dragging effects of said rotating (“infinitely long”) Tipler cylinders under GR and the mechanism for preservation of causality (which itself is a paradox). Not the best writing in any technical sense but a great premise, non?
While there’s some great SF out there (and IMHO, most SF works best in short story format), I’m actually going to throw my vote in for Vonnegut’s short, “Who Am I This Time?”, found in his collection Welcome To The Monkey House.
“The Lottery” and the aforementioned Stephen King shorts are also amazing. King is especially impressive considering his stock in trade is 1500 page mega epics; the skill set required to write The Stand or It is so different from that required to write “The Last Rung of The Ladder” (and different again from the skills required to write short novels such as The Running Man or Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redepmtion) that it astonishes me that King does all three so well.
Oh, and nobody asked me, but my favorite short story of all time, period (American or not) is W. Somerset Maugham’s “Rain.”
It’s not the greatest of all time, but you did ask for personal favorites: while I do like the other Harlan Ellison stories already mentioned, I’d like to slip in a nomination for one that’s a favorite of mine: Grail. It’s about the search for true love, and what happens when you find it, with some demons thrown in.
Are any of Harlan Ellison’s crime/gang stories still in print? I remember one about a gang of teenaged bank robbers who were always super-polite and, if they saw someone with a really nice silk tie, took it as well. It was in one of those Pyramid antholigies from the 70s, either Gentleman Junkie or No Doors, No Windows.
More recently, “The Cats” by John Updike and “Can I Get a Kosher Meal?” by Saul Bellow.