Jeff Questad’s Top 10

The story that convinced me there is nothing like short fiction wasn’t by one of the classic ancestors of the form. It was Denis Johnson’s “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” which jumped out at me from an anthology. It’s not even the best story in his book. But it’s the one that took me down the rabbit hole and changed my reading forever.

As I prepared the list I tried to recall the story that blew my mind the most from the authors I selected. My choice may be the author’s best, or it may just be the one that shook me awake to his/her voice and/or the possibilities of the form. Each story is a touchstone that drew me deeper into short fiction. Saunders’ “Commcomm” is my favorite, but “Sea Oak” was among the first things I read by him, an explosion in the mind, kicking off years of devotion to his work. Carver’s “Fat” may be almost forgotten in the man’s vast collection of great stories, but I hung on every syllable. Jeff Questad is a short fiction fiend from Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffQuestad

1. "Sea Oak," George Saunders 2.“The Hunter's Wife,” Anthony Doerr
3.“Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” Denis Johnson4.“Water Liars,” Barry Hannah
5.“The Balloon,” Donald Barthelme6.“The Gospel According to Mark,” Jorge Luis Borges
7.“Fat,” Ray Carver8.“Counterparts,” James Joyce
9.“People Like That Are the Only People Here,” Loorie Moore10.“Ysrael,” Junot Diaz
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