I'm an ocean lifeguard and an avid triathlete. After a bicycle accident in 1998, when I fractured three lumbar vertebrae, I spent a summer recovering. While grounded, I developed a passion for reading. I particularly enjoy short story collections. Here are my 10 favorite short stories.
"Servants of the Map"
(from Servants of the Map: Stories) By Andrea Barrett
This story was included in both The Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories 2001: The O. Henry Awards. Set in the Himalayan Mountains in the 1860s, the story is made up of letters between the cartographer Max Vigne in the Himalayas and his wife Clara back home in England. Max doesn't want to alarm Clara about the extreme conditions he is exposed to while triangulating (or surveying) the area.
"The Shell Collector"
(from The Shell Collector: Stories)
By Anthony Doerr
A retired professor lives in primitive conditions with his dog next to a Kenyan tidal lagoon to study and collect shells for medicinal purposes. Although blind, the professor deftly navigates his marine environment while handling extremely toxic cone shells. When he finds a potential cure for malaria, his hermetic life is disrupted by reporters and family.
(from In the Loyal Mountains)
By Rick Bass
Bass often incorporates nature and occasionally sports into his writing. Here, a female elite distance runner hires a man who lives in the mountains to board and protect her while she trains at high altitudes.
(from Tooth and Claw ... and Other Stories)
By T. C. Boyle
The narrative pace parallels the strong winds that prevail throughout this O. Henry Prize-winning story of 2003. An American woman ornithologist "skreels" into a Scottish coastal town and has a brief affair with a local sheep farmer.
"A Small, Good Thing"
(from Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories)
By Raymond Carver
A family crisis leads to a series of miscommunications. As in many of Carver's stories, the tone is somber, but the story is masterfully written in a straightforward style.
"The Open Boat"
(from Great Short Works of Stephen Crane)
By Stephen Crane
Four men from the sunken steamer Commodore attempt to row a small lifeboat to shore near St. Augustine, Florida: the injured captain, the cook, the oiler (Billie), and the correspondent. This story, originally published in 1897, fictionalizes Crane's actual experience of a shipwreck.