The short story can be a magical thing. It’s a breath, a moment, a captured mood — or an entire teeming world packed into a few pages. Maybe, if it’s really great, it’s both. The only trouble with short stories is that not enough people read them. So, in a series to celebrate Short Story Month (and help you add to your reading list), Flavorwire is asking some contemporary masters of the form to talk about the short stories they love. In this installment, Lindsay Hunter, whose electrifying second collection Don’t Kiss Me is forthcoming in July, recommends one that she can’t just get out of her head.
Lindsay Hunter: I still can’t get over Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” I’ve read it maybe ten times and I still feel scared, and sad, and like I would laugh if my heart wasn’t crowding my throat. Quite simply, Arnold Friend is terrifying. Even as part of me (the same part that makes Connie get in the car, probably) feels sorry that his boots are too big and his wig is all wrong, I am terrified. The story is a mirror with innocence reflected as horror. Innocence at Connie’s back, her toes curled at the threshold, horror before her in a gold jalopy. And oh man, it’s based on true events. To me, it’s a coming-of-age tale, a yearning, an elegy, the perfect short story.