Since I'm a sucker for commemorative occasions and symbolic dates, how could I resist posting a list of “ten” to commemorate the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year of the century. We will never see another. So here is my list of the 10 most important short story writers in the history of the genre, with a brief note explaining why I think they are so important.
Because he transformed the oral tale into written literary art
Edgar Allan Poe
Because he recognized that pattern was more important than plot
Because he populated symbolic romance stories with as-if-real characters
Because he created “realistic” stories with symbolic significance
Because he recognized that short fiction was a spiritual “showing forth”
Because she created a world of mythic meaning out of common folk
Because she understood that true reality of short fiction was the realm of the sacred
Because he created haunting recognitions out of the most minimal of materials
Because he subtly suggests the secret lives of us all
Because she’s Alice Munro
More on the divine Alice next week when I post an extended analysis of her new story in the Oct. 11 New Yorker, “Corrie.”
I welcome all suggestions of disagreements, deletions, or other alterations to this list, with justifications for the aforesaid. But that doesn't mean I will change my mind.