These short stories are set in small towns or villages.
Short Stories About Small Towns
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
A Southern spinster, Emily Grierson, has died. She had been a recluse, so the townspeople are curious about her and her house. The narrator recounts episodes from her life. (Summary & Analysis)
This story can be read in the preview of A Rose for Emily and Other Stories. (18% into preview)
“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In a small town, an old man with wings washes up on shore. There are many ideas about what he is and where he’s from. A couple takes him and locks him up on their property.
This is the eleventh story in the preview of The Big Book of Modern Fantasy. (78% into preview)
“The Friday Everything Changed” by Anne Hart
In Miss Ralston’s small-town classroom, the boys always carry water from the railway station to the school. Carrying the water is a status symbol and a break from the daily routine. One day, one of the girls challenges this tradition. (Summary)
“The Scholarship Jacket” by Marta Salinas
A fourteen-year-old girl in a small town Texas school has been a straight A student for eight years. This means she will be awarded the school’s scholarship jacket, but a complication arises. (Summary & Analysis)
“The Whole Town’s Sleeping” by Ray Bradbury
Lavinia and Francine walk to Helen’s house. Francine is worried about the Lonely One, someone who’s been strangling women in the area. Lavinia is dismissive of the danger. They take a short cut through the ravine. They come across the body of a missing woman. Francine is distraught; Lavinia convinces her to continue their evening. (Summary)
This story can be read in the Amazon sample of Bradbury Stories. (10% in)
“I Want to Know Why” by Sherwood Anderson
A teenage boy in small-town Kentucky loves horses and horse racing. He tries to make sense of an incident that affected him deeply. (Summary)
“Barn Burning” by William Faulkner
Abner Snopes is being tried in a small-town court for allegedly burning down his landlord’s barn. He’s kicked out of town, and finds a new job working as a sharecropper.
This story can be read in the preview of Collected Stories.
“The Balek Scales” by Heinrich Böll
The narrator tells the story of his grandfather who lived in a village that was controlled by the Balek family. The people would bring their flax, mushrooms and herbs to Frau Balek, who would weigh everything on the only scale in the village, and then pay them. (Summary)
“The Night” by Ray Bradbury
You are a child in a small town in 1927. You’re home with your mom. Your older brother, Skipper, is twelve and allowed to stay out later. When it’s almost nine-thirty, your mother wonders where Skipper is. After a while, she says you’re both going out for a walk. (Summary)
This is the first story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
“John Redding Goes To Sea” by Zora Neale Hurston
The villagers thought John was an unusual child, and his mother agreed. He was imaginative and prone to day dreams. He’s drawn to the sea, and wants to leave his small Florida village when he grows up. John’s mother is against it but his father is supportive. When the time comes, John is determined to go. While waiting, he meets Stella and unexpectedly gets married, which puts his plans on hold. (Summary)
“The Third Expedition (Mars is Heaven!)” by Ray Bradbury
A space ship with a crew of sixteen lands on Mars. To everyone’s surprise, Mars looks like small-town America in the 1920’s. Captain John Black is hesitant to leave the ship, but after confirming the atmosphere is breathable, he allows a small party to disembark. The ship’s navigator and the archaeologist offer theories to explain what they see. They approach a house. (Summary)
Short Stories About Small Towns or Villages, Cont’d
“Price’s Always Open” by John O’Hara
Mr. Price runs an all-night diner. His place is frequented by students, locals and out-of-towners, who break off into a few small groups.
“The Hammon and the Beans” by Americo Paredes
The narrator recalls growing up in the 1920’s in small-town Texas with a company of soldiers stationed nearby because of border troubles. He remembers especially a little girl, Chonita, who was known for trying to speak English and for getting leftover food from the soldiers’ cooks.
“Miss Leonora When Last Seen” by Peter Taylor
Miss Leonora Logan, a retired teacher, left town two weeks ago. Her house has been condemned; the site is the targeted location for a new school. The Logan family has a history of interfering with change in the community. The townspeople feel some guilt over her abrupt departure.
“The Plague Children” by Jack Hodgins
A small town’s farms are invaded by a group of young people who pick hallucinogenic mushrooms from their land. The townspeople try everything to keep their property private.
“Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr” by Miguel de Unamuno
Don Emmanuel is the priest of a small village. He is loved and respected by everyone, and does many things to help the community. A man who had left the village years ago for America returns, bringing atheistic ideas with him. This man has many talks with Don Emmanuel.
“The Eatonville Anthology” by Zora Neale Hurston
In fourteen short vignettes we meet some of the residents of Eatonville, Florida. It is a small African-American community. The anecdotes are often humorous, describing the eccentricities, perceptions, crimes, entertainments, and tall-tales of the townspeople.
“Roses, Rhododendron” by Alice Adams
Jane looks back on the summer she was ten, when she and her mother moved to a small town to open an antique shop. While her mother, Margot, gathers stock for the store, Jane checks out the town. She meets a young girl, Harriet, and they become good friends.
“A Day in the Dark” by Elizabeth Bowen
The narrator, Barbie, looks back on a day when she was fifteen. In a small town, she goes to the home of a prominent woman on behalf of her uncle, to return a magazine and ask that she lend her uncle a farming tool.
“Thanks for the Ride” by Alice Munro
Two young guys drive into a small town looking for some girls to spend the weekend with. They meet Adelaide and then go to the home of her friend Lois, and meet her family.
“Blue Boots” by Carol Newhouse
The narrator, living in Yellowknife, Canada, fantasizes about murdering annoying people. But living in a small town makes it more difficult to get away with crimes.
“The Sheriff’s Children” by Charles Waddell Chesnutt
In the small town of Troy in North Carolina, Captain Walker is murdered. A mulatto man had been seen at the Captain’s house the previous night, so he is apprehended. The men feel that they should mete out justice themselves and decide to lynch him. The sheriff hears about the plan.
Short Stories About Small Towns or Villages, Cont’d
“The Child by Tiger” by Thomas Wolfe
The narrator relates events that took place in his home town twenty-five years earlier. In the town lived a Negro man, Dick Prosser, who worked for the father of one of his young friends. Dick was a former soldier, very tidy, an excellent worker, religious, a crack shot, and he addressed the boys with respect. One day the boys entered Dick’s room and found a surprise that he was planning for the town.
“A Death” by Stephen King
Jim Trusdale is sitting in his shack reading when Sheriff Barclay and his deputies arrive. Barclay wants to know where Jim’s hat is; Jim doesn’t know. He’s ordered into the back of the wagon. Some of the men search Jim’s shack but they don’t find anything. Jim admits to being in town that afternoon. He’s taken to a cell and searched. He’s charged with the murder of Rebecca Cline.
“Sophistication” by Sherwood Anderson
The Winesburg County Fair is on, bringing many people into town. George doesn’t feel a connection to his fellow townspeople but he is interested in Helen, who wants to escape small-town life, as he does.
“Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros
Cleofilas marries Juan Pedro and leaves her family in Mexico to live in small-town Texas. She soon finds herself trapped in a lonely, unsettling life with an abusive husband.
“Pumpkins” by Francine Prose
A truck full of pumpkins collides with a car, killing the female driver. The report has an effect on several people in the small town.
“The Lonesome Place” by August Derleth
Steve tells the story of his boyhood in a small town. He says that he and his best friend, Johnny, were guilty of murder. They lived near a grain elevator and sometimes had to pass by it at night. They knew that something scary lived there.
“The Son from America” by Isaac Bashevis Singer
A Jewish man who went to America when he was fifteen returns to his home village in Poland forty years later. He has become a millionaire and plans on helping his parents and the village.
I’ll keep adding short stories about small towns and villages as I find them.