Her criteria and Number One on her list:
Writing a short story is a high-wire act, sentence by sentence, foot by foot. Very few story writers work with the safety net of a plot conceived in advance. They trust in the humming tension of a single opening line or in an image that rises in their mind, or in a fragment of a character's voice. They might have a sense of where they want their characters to go; they rarely know how they'll get them there. At times it's unnerving work. Lose your concentration or the line of tension in the story and both you and it fall. The best short stories have a breathless, in-motion quality to them, a quality that makes them ideal for adaptation into film, as directors are increasingly realising. A great story ending resonates far beyond its final word. It's a hit to the brain. I read stories and love them for that hit. As the writer Elizabeth Taylor commented, the short story gives the reader the feeling of "being lifted into another world, instead of sinking into it, as one does with longer fiction". The best stories leave you exhilarated.Read the entire top 10.
1. "The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol
On March 25 the barber Ivan wakes to find a nose in his morning bread roll. He is alarmed and confounded. He tries to abandon it in a gutter, then tries to throw it from a bridge but his plans are scuppered. Meanwhile, Kovalev has woken without his nose. Is it a terrible dream? No. The absence grows into an outrage. Then "a door of the carriage opened, and there leapt thence, huddling himself up, a uniformed gentleman... And oh, Kovalev's horror and astonishment to perceive that the gentleman before him was none other than - his own nose!" This story is delicious. It always makes me smile even though I now know well the exploits of said Nose, the eponymous hero. Gogol's story says the imagination, like the Nose, can go absolutely anywhere. He shows us that dream-realities have their own kind of logic. I love Hanif Kureishi's homage, Rhe Penis. Lord knows it was crying out to be done. After all, isn't the Nose sometimes referred to by Gogol as the member? I also love the fact that a statue erected in St Petersburg to honour Gogol and the story of The Nose disappeared from the face of the city in 2002 - another fitting tribute.