I like both of those stories, especially Bartleby — though I’d say that probably straddles the line between short story and novella in its length. My favorite short story, American or otherwise, is “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. It lacks Melville’s linguistic flourishes, certainly, but it’s no less enthusiastic. And I’m a sucker for both Vonnegut and dystopian-future stuff in general.
For what it’s worth, I also really liked O. Henry’s “The Cop and the Anthem” and Jack London’s “A Piece of Steak” when I was younger. Neither quite holds up the same way now as I don’t love O. Henry’s prose and London seems a little too blunt with his themes, but they both seem to fulfill certain requirements of short-story telling. I also always — and still like — Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady,” too.
I read a lot of fiction, something I don’t get into that much on this site. Actually, at home I pretty much exclusively read fiction, and have, for the most part, since childhood. Generally I read before bed, so I never feel confident reviewing or rehashing books if I might have dozed off during important parts. But for whatever it’s worth, anytime in the past that I envisioned becoming a writer, it was almost always as a fiction writer.
You know? I was for a while, but then I put up that suggestion box a few weeks ago and a bunch of people said they wanted more Q&As and mailbag stuff. So I figure one day of it a week — on Fridays when I’m generally scatterbrained and busy anyway — makes sense. As long as I keep getting good questions, I don’t see why I’d stop. They force me to consider things I probably would not if I weren’t prompted, and that’s welcome.
I reserve the right to ditch the Q&A posts when I feel they’re stale, of course. And speaking of this particular Q&A post: I thought for sure I had a third “rando” that I wanted to address, but now I can’t find it. So I’ll end here. Enjoy the weekend. Sandwich review tomorrow.