Book giveaway: Various Authors from The Fiction Desk

To celebrate the launch of the Sunday Story Society, those good folks at The Fiction Desk have let me have six copies of Various Authors, their first anthology, to give away. It has twelve stories by authors including Charles Lambert and Danny Rhodes, and can be yours in exchange for a comment…

How to enter

If you’d like the chance to win a copy of Various Authors, leave a comment on this post, naming a favourite short story and saying why you like it so much. The explanation doesn’t have to be long, but I won’t accept your entry without one. You have until 11.59pm UK time on Sunday 29 July to enter, after which I’ll select six winners at random. The giveaway is open to anyone worldwide, but only one entry is allowed per person, and only on this comment thread.

And while you’re here, why not join with our current Sunday Story Society discussion, on Jennifer Egan’s Twitter story “Black Box”?


  1. My favourite short story is First Love by Samuel Beckett. It has that kind of humour SB did so well yet is also devastatingly touching. It doesn’t follow the typical short story formula, it doesn’t set you up and then end up taking you in a different direction.

  2. My favorite short story is DUSK by Saki (H. H. Munro) because in under 2000 words the writer creates credible and timeless characters in a beautiful, emotionally evocative and descriptive way; it is set in a very specific time and place, yet it remains classic and relevant to today. I love it and have read it many many times.

  3. To me, the most beautiful short story ever written is ‘The Cut-Glass Bowl’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is utterly stunning. As always, Fitzgerald’s construction is masterful, and he weaves the fabric of the tale with an evocative and resonant vocabulary.

  4. Nominated short story is “A Visit From The Footbinder” by Emily Prager. It tells the sort of a young Chinese girl (Pleasure Mouse) from a noble family who is very excited about the day on which her feet are to be bound. Obviously, the day turns to horror as the process a foot binding is described and a carefree and happy little girl us ritually crippled. A story that simply stays with me and makes me thankful that I live
    when I do. It has echoes of the practice of female genital mutilation today.

  5. My favourite short story is ‘Who Am I This Time’ by Kurt Vonnegut (which appears in the collection ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’). One of the main things I look for in short stories is an examination of the ordinary. In other words, proof that “ordinary” does not mean “boring”. In this story, there is no exotic location, no gunfire or explosions, no drugs, no crime, no yachts or mansions. Two of the three main characters are there mainly because of their absence of signature characteristics. But there is a strong, clear, gripping narrative. Stuff happens, and the reader is left convinced that the time spent reading the story was worthwhile. As an example of the technique of short story writing, this is open to criticism in that there is a permanent change in some of the characters’ lives. In that respect, though not in length, it begins to resemble a novel.

  6. The Pine Oil Writers’ Conference by Tim Gautreaux, where a Presbyterian Minister in search of the ‘Answer’ of how to write fiction goes to a conference to find that ‘magical and holy thing’. When a tutor, on reading his work, tells him to give up his job and complete his novel, he finally believes he has found the Answer and never writes again. However, as he later finds out to his cost, the moral of the tale is that the ‘Answer’ (whatever you are looking for) is never that straightforward.

  7. Haruki Murakami’s ‘The Second Bakery Attack’. Not because I think it’s the greatest thing ever written but because it was the first time I really appreciated what a short story could do. I’d bought the collection it comes from (‘The Elephant Vanishes’) on a whim because I’d heard Murakami’s name mentioned a lot. I’d read very few short stories prior to this because I thought they were inferior to novels but ‘The Second Bakery Attack’ had an arresting voice; action/a fast-paced plot, and successfully showed the relationship of the husband and wife in only 13 pages. I’ve been reading short stories ever since.

  8. One of the first short stories I ever read was The Veldt by Ray Bradbury; I was eleven years old and so impressed that such tension and excitement could be contained in so few words.
    The premis is that a wealthy suburban family have bought their children a most fantastic nursery that brings to life their dreams and fantasies. This is all good and well until there is a disagreement and the parents forbid their children to use it anymore … with terrifying results!
    It really opened my eyes to the possibility of the medium and has lead to my output being almost exclusively in that format.

  9. My nominated short story is The Ascent in Ron Rash’s newish collection ‘Burning Bright’. I almost couldn’t bear to read this story but I had to as well, which was my common experience of reading Rash’s work. ‘The Ascent’ is particularly harrowing (the clarity of the child-protagonist’s view of his difficult circumstances) but beautiful, as if Ron Rash has answered the question of how to find redemption in these difficult times by finding beauty in horror. It is a very accomplished work too, in my opinion with deft handling of plot and theme.

  10. I’m going old-school with The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. I imagine the opening is quite dense for modern readers, discussing as it does the nature of reason and analysis, setting them up in opposition to the nature of the act which follows, and, of course, the manner of its detection. However, for a philosopher of mind (amongst other things) it’s really a lot of fun.

    (Also, of course, because Dupin is one of the acknowledged models for Sherlock Holmes.)

  11. My favorite short story has be “This Tyrannosaur Loves You” by Isaac Marion. It’s from his collection titled “The Hungry Mouth”. I love this short story because it really is a metaphor for religion and people will worship something because they fear the life they’ll become a part of if they don’t. The short story is quite humorous, as the narrator is a large T-rex that lives in a city, who protects the city in exchanged for the people’s obedience and their “sacrifices”, which in this case, are cows. I truly love this story. Isaac Marion is a young and upcoming author, and I believe his fresh and amusing stories are unbelievable good.

  12. It’s a tough question, David and I’m not sure I can state a favourite. But if pressed, I’ll name Rose Tremain’s The Darkness of Wallis Simpson, which depicts the horrendously sad last days of the woman every Brit loves to hate.

  13. Miss. Lucinda Fountain

    24th July 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I would like to thank you for a fantastic book giveaway, that i would love to have the oportunity of reading & reviewing!

    In response to your question i would have to say ‘Farmer Giles of Ham’ by the legendary JRR Tolkien, who wrote a prized collection of short stories & poems in ‘tales from the perilous realm’.

    His work is so outstanding that no other author can compare to the depth of history, creativity and imagination. He took the fantasy genre to new heights with his work that is both for the adult reader, and children with his poems & stories and ‘the hobbit’. I shall forever continue to read his creation throughout my life.

    Thank you so much once again x
    Email: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

  14. Short stories have always been the artform that most excited me. Somehow they seem to be the type of literature closest to music: combining compelling narrative with a pleasingly throwaway quality like a pop song, but also – like a piece of music – demanding to be revisited over and over again, sometimes immediately.

    I’m going to say The Willows by Algernon Blackwood. I think it’s the finest example of the ‘weird fiction’ genre – where horror is more about inspiring awe and opening our minds to new ways of being than it is about scaring us.

  15. My favorite (one of them, at least) is Going for the Orange Julius by Myla Goldberg. Full of symbolism and somewhat heartbreaking, it made an immediate impression on me when I read it for a creative writing class. It’s amazing that authors can take snippets of seemingly mundane situations, make them interesting and relate an expansive backstory all within the spread of a few pages. The young girl with too much lipstick eating fries with an older young man that you pass in the food court? Who really knows her story?

  16. Sarah Buttifint

    25th July 2012 at 5:33 pm

    My favourite short story is Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (if it counts). I love the character of Holly Golightly because she’s so complicated yet fascinating. I’m not sure what else I can say really, I love this story!

  17. I like ‘Audacious’ from Brock Adams. The story has a warmth feeling in it, and i like how realistic the story goes and end. Kinda short tho, still, one of my fav.

  18. Chandler Roberts

    27th July 2012 at 8:16 pm

    One of my favorite short stories is The Masque of Red Death, by Edgar Allen Poe. It is just a perfect example of Poe’s mastery of horror stories. It. Conveys just one main idea or emotion, that of horror. I love the scenery and imagery of the story.

  19. Marissa Perkins

    28th July 2012 at 9:25 am

    Sorry, I forgot to say why I like it, could my first comment be deleted? [Edit: No problem, Marissa; I’ve deleted it – David]… I like the short story ( Hunting Kat by: Kelley Armstrong) for many reasons and, honestly, one is that the paranormal story is appropriate for children, which is hard to come by these days. I just really love pretty much anything Kelley Armstrong writes.

  20. My absolute favourite is A Short Story of Hairdressing by Julian Barnes ~ anyone who’s ever had a mother, a haircut or spent time lurking in a barber’s cannot fail to identify with the story (even if you’re female in contrast to the protagonist’s male perspective). If I could only hope to write even half as well as Mr. Barnes does in this story, I would be a very contented scribbler. Thanks for the happy weekend giveaway! 🙂

  21. I love short stories! One of my favourites is A Game of Clue by Steven Millhauser from his excellent collection The Barnum Museum. It’s a story about Cluedo from the point of view of the pieces in the game and it’s very clever and has a wonderful ending.


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