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.
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
This collection of miniatures demonstrates the exquisite skill of revealing so much with so little. I could have chosen any of the short stories in this book. Epic in vision.
First published in American Short Fiction 61, Winter 2016 and available to read here. Collected in The Dominant Animal, FSG/Daunt Books, 2020
The voices! The exacting details! The unsettling vacancy of modern life!
Collected in Sweet Home, The Stinging Fly Press, 2018 and Picador, 2019
An unflinching yet generous and warm view of a dark world.
First published in Where I Live Now, Black Sparrow Press, 1999. Collected in A Manual for Cleaning Women, Picador, 2015
Rage, hate, love and a character called Shannon Pearl. It has everything.
Collected in Trash, Firebrand Books, 1988
A splinter of sex and desire and justifying both as ART.
First published in Micro Fiction, ed. Jerome H Stern, Norton, 1986. Collected in Tumble Home, Scribner, 1998; also in The Collected Stories, Scribner 2007, and widely available online
People and place evoked in language that tilts and shivers.
First published in The Sunday Times, January 2011, and available to read online to subscribers here. Collected in Saints and Sinners, Faber and Faber, 2011
It’s Flannery O’Connor… Surely I need say no more?
First published in A Good Man is Hard to Find, Harcourt Brace, 1955. Collected in Complete Stories, FSG 1971, and now from Faber and Faber, 1990
If it’s good enough for Richard Ford…
First published in The New Yorker, June 1989, and available to subscribers to read here. Collected in Like Life, Knopf/Faber, 1990, and widely anthologised, including in The Book of the American Short Story, ed, Richard Ford, Granta, 1992
Machado’s work is experimental without sacrificing integrity or the reader. A brilliant talent. I love her work, possibly too much.
First published in The American Reader, Vol. 1, No. 5/6 and available to read here. Collected in Her Body and Other Parties, Graywolf, 2017, and Serpent’s Tail, 2019
This whole collection is clever and understated.
Collected in Short Talks, Brick Books, 1992
OK, so sometimes I need gentle humour and if I do, Pym is it.
First published in Civil to Strangers and Other Writings, Plume, 1989
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’ 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