Welcome to the website of A Personal Anthology. This online project exists in the first instance as weekly TinyLetter, sent out on Friday afternoon. Each week a guest is invited to pick and introduce twelve of their favourite short stories and, where possible, link to them online. Since starting in 2017 the project has featured over 100 guest editors picking over 1,500 short stories written by over 800 authors. You can browse guest editors and featured authors in the sidebar, or just start reading below. Click here to sign up for the mailout. A Personal Anthology is curated by Jonathan Gibbs.

‘Auction’ by María Fernanda Ampuero, translated by Frances Riddle

I read to be knocked sideways, to be prodded and pricked. To feel grit under the skin. I don’t read for comfort or reassurance. This story, this collection flayed me raw. 

First published in English by Words Without Borders and available to read here. Collected in Cockfight, Feminist Press/Influx, 2020

Introduction

Welcome to my personal short story anthology, where I’ve curated a strange collection of fiction I’ve found captivating or disturbing over the years. These aren’t all my favourite stories in the world, just ones that have stayed with me for better or worse. Death, madness, Whatsapp, womanhood, lemons, psychics. Enjoy!

‘Los Angeles’ by Emma Cline

‘Los Angeles’ is a tremendous portrayal of the exploitation and insecurities of young women. The protagonist is working in a clothing store in L.A where everything’s overpriced and the girls are hired on how they look, not their intellect or experience. Management picks too-tight clothes for her to wear, and all the models in the pictures around the store have a sort of starved nymphomaniac aesthetic. We see how the structures that exploit women can be fought against or leaned into (the protagonist ends up flogging her dirty knickers to men in car parks for cash) and how sex is used as a tool and a weapon to exploit us all as consumers. 

First published in Granta 149: Best of Young American Novelists 3, April 2017 and available to read there for subscribers. Collected in Daddy, Random House/Chatto & Windus 2020