This page collects examples of minimalist short stories. Some of them were written before the term “minimalism” was used to describe writers, but they still fit the type well.
Minimalist Short Stories
Here are some examples of minimalist short stories. Many of the authors listed below wrote other minimalist short stories as well.
“Shiloh” by Bobbie Ann Mason
Leroy has been off work for four months since getting hurt. His wife, Norma Jean, supports them both by working at a drugstore. Leroy is glad to be home with his wife, but he’s worried that she’s drawing away from him—maybe his presence reminds her of their son who died as a baby.
This story can be read in the preview of Shiloh & Other Stories.
“In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel
The narrator visits her friend, who is dying of cancer, in a California hospital. The friend wants to talk about trivial things. The narrator has waited two months to visit. (Summary & Analysis)
Read “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”
“Say Yes” by Tobias Wolff
While doing the dishes together, a husband and wife start discussing interracial marriage. The wife thinks it is fine, but the husband believes the cultural differences would be insurmountable. (Summary & Analysis)
“The Father” by Raymond Carver
A family is gathered around a baby in a basket, doting over him and admiring his little features. They try to figure out who the baby looks like. (Summary and Analysis)
Read “The Father” (PDF)
“Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver
A man and woman, possibly married, have an argument as he’s packing to leave home. The subject of their baby comes up, causing a quick escalation of the conflict. (Summary)
Many of Raymond Carver’s short stories, especially the earlier ones, are considered minimalist.
“Blow” by Susan Minot
Bill comes to the narrator’s place in the middle of the day. She wasn’t getting much done, so she doesn’t mind. He’s been using coke and is paranoid. He needs a place to hang out until an appointment.
Minimalist Short Stories, Cont’d
“Usurpation” by Brian Evenson
The narrator arrives at the timberline, but Ebé isn’t there yet. He checks to see that he’s on time, and wonders if he’s in the right place. He is to receive an object from Ebé, as he has before.
“Janus” by Anne Beattie
Andrea, a successful real estate agent, has a favorite bowl that she displays in homes she’s selling. She feels the bowl is responsible for her success.
Read “Janus” (scroll down slightly)
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway
An old man sits alone in a café and drinks, as is his custom. Two waiters talk about the man’s life and wish he would go home.
Read “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”
“The Woman Who Came at Six O’Clock” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A prostitute goes to a diner every day at 6 PM. One day when she gets there, she tells the owner, Jose, that she didn’t arrive at her usual time. She claims that it’s quarter to 6, although the clock says it’s 6 PM. She and Jose talk about what time it is and she mentions some hypothetical situations that might arise in her line of work. It’s not directly stated what her purpose is.
“A Conversation from the Third Floor” by Mohamed El-Bisatie
A woman goes to the prison where her husband is being held. She tries to talk to him through his third floor window.
“Yours” by Mary Robison
Allison and her husband, Clark, who is much older than she, spend an evening carving pumpkins until early the next morning.
I hope you found some great minimalist short stories.