Somewhere in his lengthy memoir, Karl Ove Knausgaard writes about the experience of reading German poetry. He describes how some poems ‘open up’ to him immediately while others remain ‘closed’, even those works by Great Poets he is expected to appreciate. I think short stories are like that too. Some unfold on first reading while others seem distant, unreachable. This often depends on when you read the story. I remember being given William Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily’ in my first year at university and having absolutely no idea what to do with it. I thought it had been set just to baffle me and remind me of how much I didn’t know – which was, admittedly, a lot. The best reading experiences I’ve had are when a work delicately reflects or comments on an aspect of my own life at that time, causing me to think differently about the world, or myself in the world. I find I carry these ‘opened’ stories around with me after that, and I go back to them, again and again.
Here are some of those stories: