The desire to share experiences or stories is inherent in all of us. Somerset Maugharn, one of the most famous short-story writers, said that the short story started when hunter of the ancient time narrated to his fellows, by the cavern fire, after they had eaten and drunk their fill, some fascinating incident he had heard or witnessed during the day. Curiosity might have killed the cat, but the insatiable desire to know what happened next certainly ignited the teller's imagination and skill and the listener's suspense and patience.
From then till now, stories have been the binding force of our civilization. When it comes to the short-story genre, it is one of the best ways to get into your reading habit in the era of "no-time-to-read". Well, I am listing out some of my favourite short stories, which will take less of your time and investment but are equally satisfying in the long run.
Malgudi Days by R K Narayan
R.K.Narayan is one of the best-known Indian English writers who appeared on the Indian literary scene along with Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao in the 1930s. And Malgudi Days, a collection of short stories, has been well-liked since the very old days. I do personally love its TV Series named Malgudi. The exciting thing is Malgudi, a fictional town situated on the banks of Sarayu, a river in South India, and you won't feel that it's not real. All the stories are highly engaging and don't seem fictional at all.
The Black Monk by Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov, a Russian playwright and short-story writer, is acknowledged as one of the greatest writers of all time. And his aphorism, “Brevity is the sister of talent”, has encouraged millions to recognize and be confident in their talents. The Black Monk is Chekhov’s final philosophical short story. It is about Kovrin, a mediocre scientist who has magnificent hallucinations in which a black-robed monk convinces him that he owns superhuman abilities. It is destined to lead humanity to eternal life and truth. The spell is broken when the black monk cannot define what he means by “eternal truth” to Kovrin’s satisfaction and disappears forever. The disappointment leads Kovrin to abandon his family and wanders off in search of his lost illusions.
Chekhov never failed to present multiple perspectives in his single story. Do read The Black Monk to understand the perspectives.
The Miracle and Other Stories by Shashi Deshpande
The quest for freedom and self-assertion is the dominating theme that almost every female writer of the post-modern era has tried to express in magnificent proportions. In The Miracle and Other Stories, a short stories collection, Shashi Despande has depicted the new generation of women. The primary concern of Deshpande is conflict in which the modern, educated, and hence more awakened women are caught up. Despite all calamities, anxieties and frustrations, the characters chose to continue their life. Deshpande’s woman is compelled to choose between death and life in death, having the potential to challenge their male counterparts but without a frown.
You might be wondering why to read this in today’s progressive world. It’s because despite of the gender/sex, many people could relate with the circumstances and help themselves.
The Last Leaf by O. Henry
O. Henry, pseudonym of William Sydney Porter, was an American short story writer. The Last Leaf is about a masterpiece of an artist, Behrman, who tricked his neighbour Johnsy by painting a leaf on the wall. This trick cured her and gave her a new life with optimism, hope and desire to live. The climax is that it comes at the cost of the artist’s life. Such a beautiful literary work about selflessness and love for your passion. Henry’s stories romanticized the commonplace—particularly, the life of regular people in New York City. His stories conveyed the effect of coincidence on a character through humour, grim or ironic, and often had surprise closure.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Seais a novella and a magnum opus by Ernest Hemingway, an American author. A novella is different from a novel and a short story in terms of length. Its length is shorter than most novels but longer than most short stories. Ernest Hemingway was awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature for his mastery of the art of narrative. Hemingway's works explore love, war, wilderness, and loss. In this novella, Hemingway presented the universal theme of being determined and never giving up. The characters and the story symbolize the meaning of life.