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  • Writer's pictureYennie Cheung

It's Short Story Month!

Photo of Shirley Jackson, author of "The Lottery."
The legendary Shirley Jackson

May is Short Story Month, so I've decided to try posting a short story every day for thirty-one days to celebrate. I'm not sure if it's going to happen because I'm a busy gal and I decided to do this yesterday on a whim, which means I may give up on this by Wednesday (okay, maybe Thursday). But short stories are my jam, and I am always looking for new ones to punch me in the gut with their brilliance, and I was planning on finding some new ones this month anyway, so let's see how far I get.

I'm mostly just playing this by ear, but I'm going to try to do a combination of my favorite classics, my favorite modern pieces, and some new things I've come across since I decided to do this yesterday. I also enlisted some help from fellow writers, especially those who run their own literary journals or happen to be fiction editors at journals. And yes, of course, some of these stories are going to be by people I know. It's not nepotism or whatever so much as it is the happy privilege of knowing some incredibly talented, inspiring writers. Anyway, here's the first one:

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson I'm starting off with what is, in my mind, one of the most perfect short stories ever written. If you've never read it or only read it once, read it right now. If you've not read it recently, I recommend the New Yorker podcast with AM Homes. "The Lottery" is weird and horrifying, and it requires multiple rereads in order to understand it fully. I've read this story probably a dozen times now and still get something out of it every single time. As an educator, I find there's lots to explore in terms of social commentary and literary devices. As a writer, I find the craftsmanship of this essay just astounding. I mean… everything is significant in this story. Everything. I don't think there's a single unnecessary word in this whole thing. Every name is an allusion, every moment a hint of background or foreshadowing. Honestly, if you don't like or at least appreciate "The Lottery," I don't think we can be friends.



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