As it says in the introduction to my list, I gave it my “best shot.”
Here are a few of the stories I chose:
1. “Continuity of Parks,” Julio Cortázar – Kind of have to make this number 1, since it was the first story I read in Spanish that totally blew my mind . . . And created a life-long passion for Cortázar.
3. “Entropy,” Thomas Pynchon – I love Pynchon so much, I’d tattoo him on my arm. His stories may be so-so, but his comments about women’s hair are brilliant: “I will spare everybody a detailed discussion of all the over-writing that occurs in these stories, except to mention how distressed I am at the number of tendrils that keep showing up. I still don’t even know for sure what a tendril is.”
6. “Her Sense of Timing,” Stanley Elkin – This is one of those stories that’s hilarious, since it’s not happening to you. Watching a disabled man struggle to host a surreally destructive party on the same day his wife leaves him has never been so hysterical.
10. “The Dinosaur,” Augusto Monterroso – So, I’ll just give you this whole story rather than try and describe it: “When [s]he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.” That’s it, and that’s brilliant.
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .