There's a class where I teach, English 785, Reading For Writers; it's a kind of amorphous craft seminar for MFA and PhD students. I'm on the roster for it next semester, and the course packets are due in a few weeks, and I'm trying to compile my materials--the title of my section will be called Weird Stories.
Though I've never considered myself a devotee of "experimental" fiction, I do like literary fiction that strays outside the bounds of representational reality. I don't just mean plot excursions, but adventures in narrative structure, voice, and the logical underpinnings of the story--all the building blocks of fiction which we take for granted,.
There are some obvious places to start--I'll likely throw in a bit of Poe and Irving; some Garcia Marquez, Babel, Nabokov. But I'd like to find stuff that doesn't get taught very often. I'm definitely going to include China Miéville's "Reports of Certain Events in London," a story-in-fragments about the migratory streets of London--it's reminiscient of Arthur C. Clarke's Tales From The White Hart, my favorite book as a kid (and perhaps I should throw in one of those stories, too). In the same vein, I should probably include some Ray Bradbury or Stanislaw Lem, and (lord help me) Stephen King.
Lydia Davis will have to make an appearance, as an innovator in narrative structure, along with David Foster Wallace; we'll also certainly read Stephen Dixon's hilarious "Love Has Its Own Action," which works like no other story I've read, and maybe his "14 Stories," as well. John Barth, of course, though I appreciate more than love his work.
I like ghost stories and supernatural tales (Rhian doesn't, I don't think), so I might be forced to include some Joyce Carol Oates, though perhaps the grad students have had enough of her (or perhaps they've never read her, most of them having been too young in the eighties, her heyday). Alice Munro's "Carried Away" will be included--it's kind of a ghost story, but more of just a story where something impossible happens, without comment. There's an A. S. Byatt story, "The July Ghost," that I remember liking, but I wonder if I'd like it today.
Kelly Link will be included, too--I don't even know where to begin to categorize her work.
Anyway, the pile of books is growing and I am feeling exhausted just looking at it. Any suggestions?