Introduction

When I was asked to contribute to A Personal Anthology I had a grand plan to go through my small library of collections over the Christmas holiday. It was going to be my motivation to finally finish all my short story collections and anthologies. As you’ve most likely already guessed, I didn’t exactly succeed. However, what I did do was spend the period reflecting on the form, and what short stories I’ve remembered reading in the past, and why I’ve remembered them above everything else I’ve read. 
 
I had hoped this would be a good exercise to make me love the short story, as I’ve had my qualms with the form in the past. I am still trying to unpick what makes me resistant to it, why I prefer novels. I did realise that I think it is much harder to ‘pull off’ a short story. However, I also realised that what I value in novels is similar to what I value in short stories, which is that I am usually most enamoured with the craft of writing, with how the words sound in my head. 
 
In 2020, I published a short story anthology, edited by Alice Slater, called Outsiders. Like this project, that book solidified for me what I think makes a great story, what the purpose of short fiction is and what I am going to look for going forward. It wouldn’t be fair for me to just list the stories in the anthology, but I would be lying if I said that the publication of that anthology didn’t inform my choices for this. I owe a great deal to Alice Slater, and her depth of knowledge about short stories. I hope that I’m allowed a small mention of her work, which I didn’t include because it is my favourite story of hers, ‘The Alligator’ is one I’ve had the honour of publishing.
 
This all said, this project really became a personal anthology. I spent a lot of time churning up old memories of stories I studied and writers I have loved for many years, and I was astounded, and delighted, to find that I love so many short stories.

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