Introduction

This list is incomplete. It’s a bodge job, a let’s-fuck-off-home-early-eh number, a half-formed thing. I didn’t mean it to be but it is. I have lost my copies of Borges’ Labyrinths and Peter Carey’s Collected Stories. I let a friend borrow Krzhizhanovsky’s 7 Stories and he never gave it back. The anthology that contains Bartleby is at the bottom of a box under a dustsheet in an upstairs room. And so on. So there’s no ‘Life And Death In The South Side Pavilion’ here, nor ‘The Quixote of Pierre Menard’, nor ‘In The Pupil’. I didn’t want to write about them if I didn’t have them to hand.

It’s incomplete for other reasons, too. It’s incomplete because I’m incomplete (regrettably, woefully so). I haven’t read enough. More specifically, I haven’t read enough writers of colour, or non-European writers, or gay writers, or women writers. My list and I are twin inadequates.

And it’s incomplete because I made it that way. It should have more comic stories in it (there’s no Wodehouse, no Runyon, no Thurber) and more detective stories (no ‘The Big Knockover’, no ‘The Purloined Letter’) but I left them out. Curators gonna curate. And I left out some stuff I know you’ll have all read already (of course you’ve all read Eley Williams’ stories, of course you all know ‘The Semplica Girl Diaries’). But I wouldn’t want you to think I left out Raymond Carver for that reason. I left him out because I can’t abide him.

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