David Vann, novelist and short story writer, recommends…

(MODERN CLASSIC: from Collected Stories, Penguin)

My favourite short stories are in the mid-range, neither classic nor contemporary. I love Nabokov’s ‘Signs and Symbols’, for instance, because the boy’s “referential mania” describes the world a protagonist experiences. Because of that story, I think of all fictions as essentially paranoid, with nothing incidental.

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(MODERN CLASSIC: from Complete Stories, Faber)

I love Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’ because she rips her protagonist in half. Julian can never speak of 
the old family mansion without contempt nor think of it without longing, and I think this model of a divided protagonist is useful to keep in mind for all
 fiction, of any length.

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