Here are 3:
Seymour: An Introduction, by J.D. Salinger
Salinger sets up a nice problematic dichotomy between Buddy and Seymour: to live knowingly in a vapid world, or to simply vanish. The post-lasik ‘see more’ in the latter’s name just may be Salinger’s gentle phonetic answer — and he’s not talking about suicide, but self-abnegation. This may explain Salinger’s own disappearance, the greatest epilogue without words.
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, by Herman Melville
A precursor to Kafkian absurd plight with a little more humor. The “I would prefer not to” ad infin line has a corrosive, yet somewhat profound affect on Bartleby’s life. For a contemporary bureaucrat such as myself, the story is prophetic, and ultimately redeeming.
The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkin Gilman
I was into ‘crazy chick writing’ for awhile and Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s account of (her?) insanity blew Sylvia Plath out of the water. Beckett’s hermetic fancies seem spaciously well-adjusted when compared to this whack job. Is this a short story and not a novella? Am I crazy?
Jimmy Chen maintains a blog and archive of his writing at the Embassy of Misguided Zen. He is the author of Typewriter (Magic Helicopter Press), a contributing writer at HTMLGIANT, and is forthcoming in Dzanc Books Best of the Web 2009. He is also two-time Puschart nominee, and lives in San Francisco. Find him HERE.