Essential Short Story Reading

Fuck it. 

I feel like sharing some non-sexy recommendations today.

Great inspiration for anyone writing nuanced erotica, mind control fiction or just fucked up short stories. Each taps into some underlying discomfort, be it disturbingly mundane horror or fantastical warping of the familiar. 

These are all short stories that have shaped me and I aspire to someday evoke. Links to the full text when available; otherwise links to Kindle editions.


The Screwfly Solution by Alice Sheldon

The title refers to the sterile insect technique, a technique of eradicating the population of screwflies by the release of large amounts of sterilized males that would compete with fertile males, thus reducing the native population more with each generation this is done. This story concerns a similar distortion of human sexuality with disastrous results. 

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

The book does not contain any hints on how to win the lottery. It is, rather, a chilling tale of conformity gone mad.

The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Flannery O’Connor

An elderly woman and her daughter take in a traveler who brings hope back into their lives.

Araby by James Joyce

A boy falls in love with the sister of his friend, but fails in his quest to buy her a worthy gift from the Araby bazaar.

The Shadow at the Bottom of the World by Thomas Ligotti

Inhabitants of a small village who encounter a mysterious black mass which appears to emanate from the bowels of the Earth.

Barn Burning by William Faulkner

Tenant farmers try to find work.

Suffer the Little Children by Stephen King

A ghastly sick-joke with no redeeming social merit whatever.

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

Detailing the discovery of the mysterious and apparently fictional world of Tlön, whose inhabitants believe a form of subjective idealism, denying the reality of the world.

In the Hills, the Cities by Clive Barker

A vacationing couple disturbs a sacred local tradition.

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