Take just one week and become a short story expert during your lunch break. It can be tough to find time in our busy lives to enjoy the pleasure of reading. Our quick list of stories will keep your brain nourished as you snag a few moments away from your desk.
Although many authors consider short stories to be way tougher to writer than full novels, short stories have long been a favorite form of famous authors like Ernest Hemingway and Junot Diaz. They are a great way to sample a writer’s work without committing to a longer project like a novel. This April you can indulge your literary side with 6 short stories that can easily fit into your lunch break. And the best part? You can find them all online for free
Monday: The Light Lunch
Jamaica Kinkaid is well known for her writing, which is often inspired by her childhood growing up on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua. Kincaid first got her start writing for The New Yorker, and she now works as a professor at Harvard University and Claremont McKenna College.
“Girl” tells the story of a young Caribbean girl receiving advice from an elder on how to become a woman. Like many of Kincaid’s stories, it touches on themes of colonialism, feminism, and the experience of contemporary black life in America.
Tuesday: The Concise Lunch
A classic example of the postmodern school, Donald Barthelme writes quirky stories filled with detail and little sense of a linear plot. He is also known for writing “flash fiction” or extra short short stories.
“The School” illustrates all of these themes, telling the tale of a group of schoolchildren with an unusual familiarity with death. At only two pages, the story is short, but it packs a punch. Barthelme died in 1989 and is remembered as one of the greatest of the postmodern writers.
Wednesday: The Five O’clock Somewhere Lunch
Raymond Carver is often said to be the father of the contemporary American short story. He is especially known for his brevity, and it is said that he and his editor, Gordon Lish, would cut about 80% of an original draft to make it more concise. Carver, who suffered from alcoholism for many years, regularly depicts the subtle pain of addiction.
One of his most famous stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” depicts two young couples having a casual discussion over cocktails. Carver died in 1988 at age 50 from lung cancer and has been regarded as one of the most successful short story writers ever since.
Thursday: The Almost-There Lunch
Miranda July is difficult to define. She is a screenwriter, actor, author, artist, and director. She created a popular iOS app. Her debut novel, The First Bad Man, was published in January 2015 to critical acclaim.
“The Man on the Stairs” is from her collection of short stories No One Belongs Here More Than You, and it is a perfect way for unfamiliar readers to introduce themselves to her work. The story describes a woman who hears a strange man in her house and begins imagining what will happen next. The best part about July is that once you are a fan you can enjoy her work in so many forms – even on your iPhone!
Friday: The Extended Lunch
At age 77, Joyce Carol Oates is a staple of American literature. She is known as one of the most prolific writers, and it is impossible to discuss her without mentioning the countless short story and poetry collections, essays, memoirs, young adult fiction, plays, and over 40 novels that she has written.
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is a memorably creepy story about a young girl who encounters a charismatic stranger at a drive-in movie. Oates taught at Princeton University for over 30 years and only recently retired from her full-time position.
Saturday/ Sunday: The Weekend Lunch
Born in the Dominican Republic, Junot Diaz immigrated to the United States at the age of 6, and his writing is centered on the immigrant experience. He is known for his widely acclaimed short story collections Drown and This Is How You Lose Her, as well as his novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Diaz often focuses on racial themes, and “How to date a brown girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie)” addresses issues of ethnicity and class in “ghetto” culture. It is told in the second person, mimicking an instruction manual that explains how to date different girls from the perspective of a teenage boy who lives in a housing complex. Diaz currently teaches at MIT.
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