Tiggy Johnson (editor, Page 17)
Selecting my favourite short stories is too difficult a task, partly because I’m not much of a re-reader, so this is just a snapshot of what I think today, this moment, and is likely to change next week, or even tomorrow. I’ve tried to keep it brief, though would really love to include a handful more, including stories by Zenda Vecchio, Daniel Ducrou and David McLaren.
‘Mikolai’s Gift’ by Lisa Nankervis: A tragic story about two brothers vying for attention. It’s been years since I’ve read ‘Mikolai’s Gift’, yet just thinking about it still evokes the images and emotions I felt after reading it for the first time. This story will always stay with me.
‘Snapshots of Strangers’ by Paddy O’Reilly: A wonderful story about holding onto the past, this story has stayed with me for another reason. After winning The Age Short Story Competition O’Reilly still felt a need to make major changes to ‘Snapshots of Strangers’, a reminder that the writer never feels a story is finished.
Rebecca Giggs (writer, After the Whales)
One of my favourite Australian short stories is Peter Carey’s ‘Do You Love Me?’, in the collection War Crimes. The story concerns the slow disappearance of people and territories in a world of cartographic obsessions; it foreshadows, stylistically, the speculative writings of the American author Ben Marcus. I never used to like Carey’s writing, but this story encouraged me to read more, and having now discovered his novel Bliss, I have reformed that opinion.
Sam Cooney (editor, Lifted Brow)
Trying to choose a favourite Australian short story is like opening one of those small rectangular boxes of sultanas designed primarily for kid’s recess or lunch eating and hooking a finger into the box and pulling out a sultana and eating it and then exclaiming, ‘This is my favourite sultana!’ Fun, fleeting, ridiculous.
Like, what is ‘favourite’? What is ‘Australian’? What is ‘short’? Etc.
That being said, the first author that came to mind when asked this question is Peter Carey. I’m not a ginormous fan of most of Carey’s longer works, but I think his shorter stuff generally always crackles. If I had to pick one of them, it’d be the story ‘Life and Dead in the South Side Pavilion’. A man is charged with the responsibility of keeping horses from drowning in a pool. He also wants to get busy with this woman. The eventual equation ends up something like: sex = death. Some say the story is about sexual guilt, some say it’s about politics, some say it’s about nothing. I say it’s about memory. Anyway, the story is memorable.
Fiona Wright (poet, Knuckled)
I think I have to nominate Michelle Moo’s ‘New Gold Mountain’ (from HEAT 22) because the rhythms and fluidity of the language, the story in speech, I found really arresting, and very inspiring for that switch between poetry and prose. That, or Beverley Farmer’s ‘Vase with Red Fishes’ from A Body of Water.
If you love short stories, too, check out our upcoming panel, “The Short Story”, part of our series, The Library of Unwritten Stories.
The Library of Unwritten Stories is an eight week program which alternates between panels and writing group meetings.
The NSW Writers’ Centre and the City of Sydney Libraries are teaming up to present The Library of Unwritten Stories, a dynamic new program for young writers aged under 30 with a chance to establish a new writers’ group. The importance of Writers’ Groups – small meetings where writers can read and comment on each other’s work – is often underestimated. This will be a chance for young writers to meet each other, explore the potential for collaborative projects, be mentored by industry professionals and develop their own work.
The Library of Unwritten Stories will alternate weekly between talks from industry guests and the writing group meetings. Talks will focus on the short story and each guest will set a writing challenge for the next week’s meeting.
When: Wednesday evenings: September 5, 19 & 26; October 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31, 6-7pm
To book a place please visit the Library of Unwritten Stories Eventbrite page.