Anthology Judge Kevin Brockmeier’s Fifty Favorite Short Stories

January 14, 2015
Submissions for our 2015 anthology are now open! Our guest judge Kevin Brockmeier says he is “looking for the kind of stories that result when a writer combines imaginative daring with dynamic, exact, emotionally suggestive prose.” To give you a better idea of the sorts of stories he admires, here is a list of his fifty favorites. And, if you’re looking for still more inspiration, check out this list of Brockmeier’s  favorite fantasy and science fiction in our May interview.


Little Rock Author Kevin Brockmeier
Several Rules: (1) I have listed these stories in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, rather than in order of preference—though I’ve marked my ten current favorites with an asterisk. (2) I have chosen no more than one story (or in a few cases one novella) per author. (3) I have tried to be honest, which is why there are so many contemporary English-language stories on this list, as well as so many stories by science fiction writers, magic realists, and assorted other fantasists.


—Kevin Brockmeier, August 7, 2014

Fifty Favorite Stories

1. “Tickets on Time (Extracts from the diary of Jules Flegmon)” by Marcel Aymé
2. “The Voices of Time” by J.G. Ballard (*)
3. “Gryphon” by Charles Baxter
4. “The Last Song of Sirit Byar” by Peter S. Beagle
5. “The Accordion Player” by John Berger (*)
6. “Three Versions of Judas” by Jorge Luis Borges
7. “The State of Grace” by Harold Brodkey (*)
8. “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler
9. “The Time Machine” by Dino Buzzati
10. “The Light-Years” by Italo Calvino (*)
11. “American Dreams” by Peter Carey
12. “Sins and Virtues” by Jim Crace
13. “White Angel” by Michael Cunningham
14. “Pet Milk” by Stuart Dybek
15. “The Prophet from Jupiter” by Tony Earley (*)
16. “The Twenty-seventh Man” by Nathan Englander
17. “Grace” by Paula Fox
18. “From the Fifteenth District” by Mavis Gallant
19. “The Torturer’s Wife” by Thomas Glave (*)
20. “Professor Berkowitz Stands on the Threshold” by Theodora Goss (*)
21. “Two Gentle People” by Graham Greene
22. “Monday” by Mark Helprin
23. “It Didn’t Bother Me” by Jeremy Jackson
24. “Emergency” by Denis Johnson
25. “Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor” by Franz Kafka
26. “The Joy and Melancholy Baseball Trivia Quiz” by Ken Kalfus
27. “The Dark Princess” by Richard Kennedy
28. “Bobcat” by Rebecca Lee
29. “Catskin” by Kelly Link
30. “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean
31. “The Boat” by Alistair MacLeod
32. “The Briefcase” by Rebecca Makkai
33. “Man in the Drawer” by Bernard Malamud
34. “Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin
35. “Singular Pleasures” by Harry Mathews
36. “The Thistles in Sweden” by William Maxwell (*)
37. “Twins” by Megan Milks
38. “The Next Thing” by Steven Millhauser
39. “Faith and Mountains” by Augusto Monterroso
40. “A Window” by Haruki Murakami
41. “Sugar Among the Chickens” by Lewis Nordan
42. “Reeling for the Empire” by Karen Russell
43. “Akhnilo” by James Salter
44. “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz” by George Saunders
45. “The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter” by Lucius Shepard
46. “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy (*)
47. “Extracts from Adam’s Diary and Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain
48. “Escapes” by Joy Williams (*)
49. “The Dreamed” by Robert McLiam Wilson
50. “The Private Lives of Trees” by Alejandro Zambra



At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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