Kevin Wilson’s Top Ten Favorite Novellas

I fear this is too long. I chose novellas that aren’t presented by themselves in a book. So no Miss Lonelyhearts or Ballad of the Sad Café or EVER, all three amazing books that I would have included otherwise. Instead, I picked stories that are listed as novellas within a larger collection. People might call them long short stories, but I’m calling them novellas. Also, instead of trying to think of variations of “This is awesome,” I just picked lines from the novellas that say “This is awesome” in the author’s own words. If it’s too long, cut it out. Thanks again for thinking of me and I can’t wait to see what other people pick.

Favorite Novellas

1. We’re All in This Together, by Owen King

2. Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link

3. Blessed Assurance: A Moral Tale, by Alan Gurganus

4. Ship Fever, by Andrea Barrett

5. Bibliophilia, by Michael Griffith

6. The Wrong Thing, by Mary Gaitskill

7. Tumble Home, by Amy Hempel

8. Revenge, by Steven Millhauser

9. The Spotted Pup, by Dorothy B. Hughes

10. A Day Meant To Do Less, by Kyle Minor

“To put it succinctly, she said that Gil believe with absolute certainty that he had once stroked Ralph Nader’s naked thighs at a masquerade orgy…it was Gil’s testimony that the masked man had returned his thigh-stroking in kind, and with all the compassion and attention that one might have expected from a person who had selflessly dedicated his life to the public good.”
From We’re All In This Together, by Owen King

“In the previous episode of The Library, masked pirate-magicians said they would sell Prince Wing a cure for the spell that infested Faithful Margaret’s hair with miniature, wicked, fire-breathing golems.”
From Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link

“The more vivid each dark person became, the blanker, blander, and whiter I felt. A plug of stray cotton.”
From Blessed Assurance: A Moral Tale, by Alan Gurganus

“They had buried a hundred and seven at sea, he said. Or perhaps it was a hundred and seventy. When they ran out of old sails to use as shrouds they’d slipped the bodies into weighted meal-sacks and tipped them over the bulwarks on hatch-battens.”
From Ship Fever, by Andrea Barrett

“She wishes these shiny young people would keep their ids and orifices to themselves: diddle one another silly in private, if they want, but keep the library a preserve for the book and its dusty devotees. Is that too much to ask? The books, safe in their cellophane condoms, set a fine and celibate example, but no one heeds. No one heeds.”
From Bibliophilia, by Michael Griffith

“To entertain me, she brought a large cardboard box out of the closet and showed me what was in it. There were somber albums of family pictures (tiny troubled Erin in a ruffled swimsuit, handsome Dad looking absently at something outside the frame, towering, pissed-off Mom), a plaque that had been awarded to her in a high school photography contest, a track team trophy, a bracelet her brother had made for her in junior high, love letters, an artificial penis made of rubber, an apparatus with which to strap it on, an odd assortment of small plastic animals, and some Polaroids of Erin naked except for a dog collar and leash around her neck.”
From The Wrong Thing, by Mary Gaitskill

“I have killed two of the wrong things to kill. It is not like the city where you know what to kill. First a preying mantis (they will eat the other bugs if you give them a chance to do it) and then a firefly which, without its glow, was just a beetle in the bathroom.”
From Tumble Home, by Amy Hempel

“Apparently the thing to do was find his E spot. When you found it, you pressed it. Then he raped you. Your marriage was saved. The trouble with the E spot was that it was very hard to locate; it was somewhere near the abdomen, or the pancreas.”
From Revenge, by Steven Millhauser

“…the glare of movie marquees…Chinese restaurants and hole-in-the-wall gyp joints called night clubs…cafeterias and greasy hamburger stands, hat shops, pawn shops, candy shops, junk jewelry shops, book shops, phonograph record shops, everything scribbled with neon, everything blaring with noise, glaring with light.”
From The Spotted Pup, by Dorothy B. Hughes

“The sock had to come off. He tried again, this time stretching the fabric as carefully around the arch as he had around the heel. When the sock cleared skin, he saw something like a rash, a reddish-purple blemish that covered most of the arch, surrounded by a deep yellowish-purple ring, a deep, deep bruise.”
From A Day Meant to Do Less, by Kyle Minor

Kevin Wilson is the author of the collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Ecco/Harper Perennial, 2009). His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, One Story, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere, and has twice been included in the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, teaches fiction at the University of the South and helps run the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Visit him HERE.

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