Short Stories: The Lottery, The Semplica-Girl Diaries, and Brokeback Mountain

I don’t read short stories very often, but when I do they often leave an impactful message with me. Short stories are very simple yet creative, and are a very useful form of practice for writers. If you ever have an idea for a novel, but don’t want to write it yet, then you can test it out as a short story and see if it works out for you.

I think it’s really hard to find a good short story that resonates with you. It’s also hard to just find a short story. Most of the time they are only available as part of a literary magazine subscription. In one of my classes called “Writing Fiction” in 2015 I had to read two short stories a week, and out of those around 24 stories, these stories I have listed below are my favourite. Coincidentally, they were also all published by The New Yorker.

These are three short stories that have stuck with me since I read them, and all provide twists, shocking moments and beautiful writing.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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Publication Date: 1948

Publisher: The New Yorker

Genre: Fiction

Rating: stars

The Lottery is about a small town who participate in an event called “The Lottery” every year. Locals in the town start collecting stones, expressing their views on the ritual, and predict whether their family’s name will be called out. But what exactly does “The Lottery” entail?

The Lottery starts out very confusing and readers do not get a good sense about what is happening until the ending. However, the wait is worth it because of the shocking ending. The author manages to create a sense of anxiety and fear within the characters very subtly, which makes the reader question what could be so bad about a seemingly harmless event within a small town.

You can read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson here.

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx


Publication Date: 13 October 1997

Publisher: The New Yorker

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Rating: stars

Brokeback Mountain is about two cowboys named Ennis and Jack who first meet during a summer-long job on Brokeback Mountain. They go through difficult times over the next twenty years of their lives, only coming together for brief stretches of time to relive what they experienced together when they were nineteen-years-old.

One of the main reasons I read this story is because I love the 2005 film; it’s amazing. The short story is equally as amazing, capturing the struggles of gay men in the southern states of America. Something I really enjoy about this story is that it goes over a long period of time, which is not often seen in short stories. Reading about their entire relationship works very well and makes the events seem sentimental.

You can read Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx here.

The Semplica-Girl Diaries by George Saunders


Publication Date: 12 October 2012

Publisher: The New Yorker

Genre: Science-Fiction

Rating: 1.5 stars

In The Semplica-Girl Diaries, a husband and father to three children struggles with how wealth is perceived in his community. After witnessing a beautiful display of a rich families’ SGs, he is determined to find a way to buy his own, even though his daughter disapproves of them.

It takes a while to get used to the way in which this story is written. It is like a journal of a man, but the sentences are jumbled with poor grammar and colloquialisms. It is set sometime in the future and comments on the divide of wealth in our world. It is a confronting and strange story, but very easy to read and follow. What happens in the story is interesting to read about, and I found that I wanted to read more even though I was confused by what was going on.

You can read The Semplica-Girl Diaries by George Saunders here.

  • What’s your favourite short story? I’d love to hear it, even if you think it’s obscure.
  • Have you read any of these?

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7 thoughts on “Short Stories: The Lottery, The Semplica-Girl Diaries, and Brokeback Mountain

  1. OMG I remember reading The Lottery in school a few years ago and thinking how creepy and haunting it was. It reminded me of a shorter version of The Hunger Games almost. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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