Finding Short Stories

Short stories make excellent supplementary texts for the area of study. But how do you find a good one?

There are many writers who excel in the art of the short story. Look for names like:

Story of the Door by Dave Knapik

Raymond Carver
Robert Drewe
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Peter Goldsworthy
Eva Hornung (Sallis)
Shirley Jackson
Cate Kennedy
Margo Lanagan
Nam Le
Alistair MacLeod
David Malouf
Katherine Mansfield
Alice Munro
Annie Proulx
Mandy Sayer
Carol Shields
William Trevor
John Updike
Tim Winton
…to name just a few.

Anthologies will include some great stories by lesser known writers as well.

Anthologies

Fortunately there are many anthologies published. The best way to find a good story for your purposes is to take one or two collections home and start reading. If a favoured author has published a collection you are a step ahead. Otherwise look for known authors in a mixed anthology or just take pot luck. Consider your core text and themes so as to neither replicate too closely, nor choose something too difficult to link. But also try to find a story you love. You will be living with it for a good many hours, so spending a bit more time reading now may save you pain later.

Journals

Literary journals are often the first to publish the stories from which anthologies are chosen. They offer the added bonus of serving as writing models for those ambitious to improve their creative writing. You will read an edgier range of stories, essays and poetry within a literary journal. Some will be more polished than others and editors will risk some experimental writing.

Journals we receive include Meanjin, Voiceworks and Westerly. Other Australian literary journals which you may find at public libraries or bookshops include Heat, Overland, Southerly and Island.

Online

It is harder to find good quality short stories online amongst so much uncatalogued content, but there are some excellent exceptions.

The first is literary journal sites (such as those linked above) as most of these publish a small amount of original fiction online.

Another would be a site which publishes older material which is copyright free. An example is Classic Shorts, and many sites may publish individual stories in this category.

The New Yorker magazine has been publishing short fiction for decades, much of which is available freely online, as well as their monthly podcast where a current writer chooses to read and discuss a New Yorker story published some time in the past.

A fabulous place to find new stories is Fifty-Two Stories, now in its second year of delivering a new story each week of the year. Presented by publisher Harper Perennial, many of these are from anthologies worth chasing up, although not all are published in Australia.

Another place to get a weekly short story fix is by listening to ABC Radio National at 8.30 am Sunday mornings. Not actually conscious at that time of the week? Subscribe to Sunday Story RSS feed, or check the site from time to time. The audio is available for four weeks after broadcast.

A number of these short story places online have been collected into a custom search engine where you can search the lot. Short Story Finder searches about half a dozen online collections, plus a number of individual stories. It is a fairly ‘dumb’ search as it is just picking up key words in the content of the story, rather than themes, but may help if you want a specific author or specific element. For example, searching for artist, poet or music.