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Novels on the beach are great and all, but what about a nice short story or essay now and then, refreshing as a popsicle, lightweight as a summer shift? For your reading pleasure, here are ten great stories and creative essays by some of today’s best writers, available for free PDF download.

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“In the fourth week of drought, at the third and final performance of the Roundabout Traveling Circus, the elephant keeled over dead.” The Miracle Years of Little Fork, by Rebecca Makkai

“He was meek, homicidal, wore a long scarf tied once around his neck as must have been the style for trolls that year.” I Left My Heart in Skaftafell, by Victor LaValle

“The note was slipped to me on Wednesday, July 20th, at two minutes before three.” Août, by Meg Wolitzer

“Each year our elementary school class took a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art.” The Resurrection of Christ, by David Sedaris

“There is something forlorn about Baltimore; I thought of this every Thursday when my taxi sped down Charles Street on my way to the train station to visit Jon in New York City.” My American Jon, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The mismatched, worn plates waited on the table, clouds of steam rose from the kettle of boiling potatoes and condensed on the window.” A Run of Bad Luck, by E. Annie Proulx

“The marketplace was already crowded that morning, and everyone was doing a good business.” Peanut’s Fortune, by Amy Tan

“My great grandmother was born in Mississippi, in 1890, and lived in Mississippi for the whole of her life.” On Barrie and Stevenson, by Donna Tartt

“He came to see me at my Atlanta office, after his move back to Plains.” Jimmy Carter’s Rabbit, by Lydia Millet

“Every village has its rhythm, and every year Templeton’s was the same.” Lucky Chow Fun, by Lauren Groff


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Ploughshares, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer 2015), pp. 71-85
Daedalus, Vol. 133, No. 4, On Human Nature (Fall, 2004), pp. 102-112
The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Ploughshares, Vol. 24, No. 2/3 (Fall, 1998), pp. 98-107
Southern Cultures, Vol. 3, No. 2 (SUMMER 1997), pp. 34-37
University of North Carolina Press
Conjunctions, No. 48, Faces of Desire (2007), pp. 231-240
Ploughshares, Vol. 13, No. 2/3 (1987), pp. 177-189
Grand Street, No. 38 (1991), pp. 10-22
Jean Stein
Fairy Tale Review, Vol. 1, The Blue Issue (2005), pp. 66-71
Wayne State University Press
The Baffler, Vol. 2, No. 1 [18] (2010), pp. 174-178
Ploughshares, Vol. 32, No. 2/3 (Fall, 2006), pp. 52-77