Ali Smith and Ian Rankin are among the writers identifying their favorite Scottish and international short stories in an article about the second annual Scotsman & Orange Short Story Award. Smith’s picks:
Best Scottish: Jim Kelman’s “Acid”, only about 140 words long, about a man who’s fallen in a vat of acid and an old man who turns out to be his father comes along with a long pole and as he pushes him under he says “Sorry Hughie”. The whole story’s about acid, about being eaten away, kindness and harshness; not a word is wasted.
Best world: Grace Paley is the best short story writer in the world* and my favourite of hers is “Conversation with My Father” about an old man who is dying and having a row argument with his daughter – about stories, actually. Tying with that is Chekhov’s “After the Theatre”, only four pages long, about a girl who’s just come back from seeing Eugene Onegin, she’s just full of love and sadness and life.