As a fitting finale to National Short Story Month, we asked the talented crew over at One Story to name their ten favorite epigrammatic tales. Tanya Rey, the managing editor, explained via e-mail that their choices are in no particular order, so anti-Salingerists are advised to not get all huffy just because JD leads the list. Tanya writes, “Certain authors (e.g., Cheever, Moore, Johnson, Barthleme) were nominated more than once, for different stories, so we tried to choose the most ‘classic’ of those stories. This was not exactly a scientific or objective process.” However, we stand behind the choices because they’re some of our favorites as well. What do you think, dear readers?
“For Esmé – with Love and Squalor” by JD Salinger
“For Esmé – with Love and Squalor” was originally published in 1950 in the New Yorker to great acclaim; it was later included in the collection Nine Stories. In “For Esmé…”, an American soldier is looking back on his encounter with a clever 13-year-old singer named Esmé who entreats him to write about something vile. (Lemony Snicket fans might remember Count Olaf’s fashion conscious, diabolical girlfriend, Esmé Squalor.)