I love short stories that pack a punch—emotionally, intellectually, even viscerally. Stories that may take only a short time to read, but stay with you for days afterwards. These are a few of my favorites:
THE ONES WHO WALK AWAY FROM OMELAS by Ursula K. LeGuin. Only a few pages long, but what an amazing few pages. Ones of the finest short stories ever written in the English language, don’t @ me.
SINGING MY SISTER DOWN by Margo Lanagan. This is the first piece of fiction I ever read by Lanagan, and she’s now one of my favorite writers (check out her miraculous novel, Tender Morsels). This is a shattering piece of anthropological storytelling that does not give up its secrets easily.
PONIES by Kij Johnson. This deceptively simple story of a young girl’s party is a kick in the gut wrapped in cotton candy. I remember giving this to my son to read when he was in high school, and he said to me, “This isn’t a fantasy, it’s a documentary.” If you were ever bullied, particularly in middle school, Ponies should maybe come with a trigger warning.
I can’t link to this one, but it’s available to read on Tor.com. Go check it out, I’ll be here when you get back.
MAN FROM THE SOUTH by Roald Dahl. I imagine more people know Roald Dahl for children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. While all of Dahl’s kids’ books have a deep undercurrent of darkness, it’s in his adult short stories that the darkness truly bubbles to the surface. This one has been adapted for both television and the movies, but it’s the original story, particularly the final sentence, that will send a shiver down your spine.
SURVIVOR TYPE by Stephen King. Auto-cannibalism. That’s all I’m gonna say.