I grew up in an American suburb, reading short stories. In the 1980s I worked in trade publishing in New York. If you remember the publishing scene then, short stories were having a moment. Recreationally, I read them in the New Yorker, in The Atlantic, and Harper’s. I participated in multi-week story workshops run by Madison Smartt Bell, Susan Minot, and Christopher Reeves’ father. My home contains several long, overstocked shelves filled with single author and group anthologies. Long story short (ahem), the form is a vital part of my reading DNA.
Being a woman of taste and discernment, I love every short story writer you’d expect me to love. I still cherish the hug I got from Lorrie Moore. I bow before Donald Barthelme, Mavis Gallant, Tessa Hadley, Damon Runyon, the Elizabeths — Taylor and McCracken — not to mention Alice Munro, Lydia Davis, and oh gosh, many more.
One of the delights of subscribing to these letters is hearing about authors I’m unfamiliar with, or who’d slipped from immediate memory. I thought I’d try to choose 12 who’d have that effect on you. Then I thought I’d follow a clever theme. Then I decided I’d just choose any 12 and maybe one day, return to choose another 12, and later, another 12. I could do this once a month for a year without repetitions.