Introduction

Nothing here by Chekhov or Borges, but then I see these as the equivalent of the given Shakespeare and the Bible on Desert Island Discs. Chief among the stories I have excluded for lack of space are the meltwater-fresh ‘Indian Camp’ by Ernest Hemingway, Samuel Beckett’s ‘Dante and the Lobster’, almost anything by Lorrie Moore, Raymond Carver’s ‘A Small Good Thing’ and Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’. The selections that follow are instinctive. These are the stories that have had both an immediate and lasting impact on me. I found them all instantly thrilling and they have rewarded repeated readings over the years. Seven of them are very short indeed, between half a page and two pages long; the remaining five are more conventional in length. 

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