Rachel Zadok, novelist, recommends…

(CLASSIC: from Collected Stories, Virago)

I was first introduced to this story by Tamar Yoseloff, a poet and my first creative writing teacher. To me, this is the ultimate short story. I never get tired of reading it and I never tire of trying to emulate it. In 450 words, three characters, and the relationships that bind them, step off the page into my imagination. And it is just a single page, but at the same time there is nothing gimmicky about it like there is with flash fiction. It’s just a perfectly formed, short short story.

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(MODERN: from Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories, Harvill)

I think this an example of Raymond Carver at his most astute. This is essentially a story about love, and the different kinds of love, and it manages to analyse this human condition without being sentimental or romantic. I love the sparseness of his language, and I’m a big fan of this kind of slice-of-life narrative style.
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