Reaching Inside:

50 Acclaimed Authors on 100 Unforgettable Short Stories

A moving and inspiring anthology of masterful essays on stories that touch the hearts and minds of readers.

“A writer,” Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow once said, “is a reader who is moved to emulation.” New York Times bestselling novelist and memoirist Andre Dubus III took that idea and invited acclaimed authors to write about short stories that altered their view of life and their place in it—short stories that, ultimately, made them want to write something substantial themselves.

Here is Richard Russo on “Builders” by Richard Yates and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” Joyce Carol Oates on John Updike’s “A&P.” Tobias Wolff on Hawthorne’s “Wakefield.” Michael Cunningham on James Joyce’s “The Dead.” And much, much more. Readers will not only gain new insight into these masterfully written stories but also the impact each had on the contributors’ lives and work.

The fifty contributors are T.C. Boyle, Russell Banks, Richard Bausch, Robert Boswell, Charles Baxter, Ann Beattie, Madison Smartt Bell, Ron Carlson, Lan Samantha Chang, Michael Cunningham, Junot Diaz, Anthony Doerr, Emma Donoghue, Stuart Dybek, Dagoberto Gilb, Julia Glass, Mary Gordon, Lauren Groff, Jennifer Haigh, Jane Hamilton, Ron Hansen, Paul Harding, Ann Hood, Pam Houston, Gish Jen, Charles Johnson, Phil Klay, Dennis Lehane, Lois Lowry, Colum McCann, Sue Miller, Rick Moody, Antonya Nelson, Bich Nguyen, Joyce Carol Oates, Stewart O’Nan, Peter Orner, ZZ Packer, Ann Patchett, Edith Pearlman, Jayne Ann Phillips, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Anna Quindlen, Ron Rash, Richard Russo, Dani Shapiro, Mona Simpson, Jess Walter, Tobias Wolff, and Meg Wolitzer.

Reaching Inside will remind you why you fell in love with reading.

CONTENTS

Introduction: Andre Dubus III

Ann Patchett
“Sonny’s Blues,” James Baldwin
“The Long-Distance Runner,” Grace Paley

Mary Gordon
“I Stand Here Ironing,” Tillie Olsen
“Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” Katherine Anne Porter

Madison Smartt Bell
“King of the Mountain,” George Garrett
“Sredni Vashtar,” Saki

Meg Wolitzer
“Clay,” James Joyce
“Yours,” Mary Robison

Dani Shapiro
“Circular Ruins,” Jorge Luis Borges
“Getting Closer,” Steven Millhauser

ZZ Packer
“The Paper Lantern,” Stuart Dybek
“Solo Song: For Doc,” James Alan McPherson

Ann Beattie
“Bliss,” Katherine Mansfield
“The Prince,” Craig Nova

T.C. Boyle
“The Brother,” Robert Coover
“The Sorrows of the Flesh,” Isabel Huggan

Anthony Doerr
“The Garden of Forking Paths,” Jose Louis Borges
“Continuity of Parks,” Julio Cortazar

Gish Jen
“Barn Burning,” William Faulkner
“Bartleby, The Scrivener,” Herman Melville

Stewart O’Nan
“Winter Dreams,” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Boys,” Rick Moody

Tobias Wolff
“Wakefield,” Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” Joyce Carol Oates

Jess Walter
“The School,” Donald Barthelme
“Bullet in the Brain,” Tobias Wolff

Kirstin Valdez Quade
“Love,” William Maxwell
“Dance of the Happy Shades,” Alice Munro

Mona Simpson
“The Lady with the Dog,” Anton Chekhov
“Good People,” David Foster Wallace

Richard Russo
“The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson
“The Builders,” Richard Yates

Ron Rash
“Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You,” William Gay
“A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty

Anna Quindlen
“The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry
“Wants,” Grace Paley

Jayne Anne Phillips
“A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor
“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,” Delmore Schwartz

Edith Pearlman
“A Love Match,” Sylvia Townsend Warner
“Roman Fever,” Edith Wharton

Peter Orner
“Guests of the Nation,” Frank O’Connor
“Welcome,” John Edgar Wideman

Joyce Carol Oates
“Battle Royal,” Ralph Ellison
“A&P,” John Updike

Bich Minh Nguyen
“Cathedral,” Raymond Carver
“In the American Society,” Gish Jen

Antonya Nelson
“Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad
“The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor,” Deborah Eisenberg

Rick Moody
“The Company of Wolves,” Angela Carter
“The Use of Force,” William Carlos Williams

Sue Miller
“Spanish in the Morning,” Edward P. Jones
“The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien

Colum McCann
“A Ball of Malt and Madame Butterfly,” Benedict Kiely
“The Love Object,” Edna O’Brien

Lois Lowry
“A Small, Good Thing,” Raymond Carver
“The Management of Grief,” Bharati Mukherjee

Dennis Lehane
“Why Don’t You Dance,” Raymond Carver
“The Second Tree from the Corner,” E.B. White

Phil Klay
“The Grand Inquisitor,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“The Harvest,” Amy Hempel

Charles Johnson
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” Ambrose Bierce
“Trumpeter,” John Gardner

Pam Houston
“Sara Cole: A Type of Love Story,” Russell Banks
“A Note on the Type,” Ron Carlson

Ann Hood
“Girl,” Jamaica Kincaid
“Home,” Jayne Anne Phillips

Paul Harding
“The Swimmer,” John Cheever
“The Jewels of the Cabots,” John Cheever

Ron Hansen
“To Build a Fire,” Jack London
“Master and Man,” Leo Tolstoy

Jane Hamilton
“Goodbye My Brother,” John Cheever
“White Angel,” Michael Cunningham

Jennifer Haigh
“The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street,” Mavis Gallant
“Family Furnishings,” Alice Munro

Lauren Groff
“The Overcoat,” Nikolai Gogol
“The Shawl,” Cynthia Ozick

Robert Boswell
“Madagascar,” Steven Schwartz
“The Death of Ivan Ilych,” Leo Tolstoy

Russell Banks
“The Artificial Nigger,” Flannery O’Connor
“No Place for You My Love,” Eudora Welty

Julia Glass
“A Father’s Story,” Andre Dubus
“Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Dagoberto Gilb
“La Noche Buena,” Tomas Rivera
“Paso del Norte,” Juan Rulfo

Stuart Dybek
“The Grasshopper and Bell Cricket,” Yasunari Kawabata
“Birds,” John O’Brien

Emma Donoghue
“An Attack of Hunger,” Maeve Brennan
“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Junot Diaz
“Bloodchild,” Octavia Butler
“Night Women,” Edwidge Danticat

Michael Cunningham
“Work,” Denis Johnson
“The Dead,” James Joyce

Lan Samantha Chang
“French Lesson I: Le Meurtre,” Lydia Davis
“The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe

Ron Carlson
“Babylon Revisited,” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The Tell-Tale Heart,” Edgar Allan Poe

Charles Baxter
“The Corn Planting,” Sherwood Anderson
“A Conversation with My Father,” Grace Paley

Richard Bausch
“Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway
“The Real Thing,” Henry James

Andre Dubus III’s seven books include the New York Times bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and his memoir, Townie. His most recent novel, Gone So Long, was named on many “Best Books” lists, including The Boston Globe’s “Twenty Best Books of 2018.” He has two new books forthcoming, the novel Such Kindness, due in summer 2023, and a collection of personal essays, Ghost Dogs, due in 2024. Dubus has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Fiction, two Pushcart Prizes, and is a recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His books are published in more than twenty-five languages, and he teaches full-time at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.