I have compiled a top ten list that is two times larger than requested. It’s assembled in alpha order by title. My favorite is Pafko at the Wall, by Don DeLillo, which I read in Harper’s when it first came out, then as a chapter in Underworld, and then again when it was released as a stand-alone book a few years ago. I think I like it so much because Jackie Gleason, The Great One, is in it.
I read almost all of the novellas on the list many years ago, some as a teenager. I have a soft spot for Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, and all of Salinger, which I read one week in tenth grade when I was home sick from school. Of the more recent novellas listed, my favorite is Shopgirl by Steve Martin with Spanking the Maid by Robert Coover a close second. I am surprised that three novellas by Henry James are on this list, but I couldn’t take even one off.
1. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
2. Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, by Herman Melville
3. The Bear, by William Faulkner
4. The Beast in the Jungle, by Henry James
5. The Body Artist, by Don DeLillo
6. Daisy Miller, by Henry James
7. Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
8. EVER, by Blake Butler
9. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka
10. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
11. Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
12. Pafko at the Wall, by Don DeLillo
13. Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger
14. Seize the Day, by Saul Bellow
15. Shopgirl, by Steve Martin
16. The Singing Fish, by Peter Markus
17. Spanking the Maid, by Robert Coover
18. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
19. The Train Was On Time, by Heinrich Boll
20. Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
William Walsh is the author of Without Wax: A Documentary Novel and Questionstruck. His fiction and derived texts have appeared in New York Tyrant, Caketrain, Juked, Rosebud, Quarterly West, Lit, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other journals. Find him HERE.