October 28th, 2010 / 6:12 pm
Mean & Snippets

What is the #1 all time overrated, over–anthologized, you-are-sick-of story or poem or essay?


  1. Sean

      That’s about as perceptive as Chili’s.

  2. sp

      Hempel – “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”

      Just…not a fan. Don’t think it should be anthologized as much as it is.

  3. MFBomb

      “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

      /end thread

  4. Kate Magoc

      Anything by Emily Dickinson.

  5. Zack Tuck

      Bharati Mukherjee’s “The Management of Grief”. Please, no more!

  6. Lucy Maddox

      Anything by Billy Collins, but especially “Marginalia” and “The History Teacher.”

  7. Neil

      Somebody’s going to say “The Lottery” and I’m going to disagree.

  8. Sean

      the Lottery.

  9. Neil

      I disagree.

  10. dl


  11. lily hoang

      girl, hills like white elephants, a good man is hard to find, a rose for emily. i had to teach it every freaking semester. over and over again.

  12. Sean

      Why did you “have” to teach it?

  13. lily hoang

      At the beginning, I had a pre-set syllabus. Then, I got complacent and didn’t bother changing the readings around. It’s my fault, mostly.

  14. jereme_dean

      most of the shit they made me read in grade school

  15. Sean

      OK, you can go off-syllabus easily, though every job is different. I mean the prof always has autonomy. I use to go WAY off syllabus (yet keep the same rhetorical points) back in the dark days I taught comp. I’d replace the book’s essays with new ones, fresh, relevant, but with the same rhetorical lessons.


      The great thing about college level teaching is the autonomy. Don’t teach stories you think are just anthologized because they are anthologized, because they are…


  16. Sean

      I used to get so pissed in 12th grade when they made me read Scorch Atlas. Never ‘understood’ it. And I have to ‘understand’ everything I read, as you all know.

  17. mark leidner

      anything by anyone who has ever lived or spent time in the Caribbean

  18. keedee

      “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

  19. yourestupid

      When I read this invitation, I was hoping that people would mention a disproportionate amount of female writers who have been “over-recognized,” to combat the fact that HTMLGiant has such a huge imbalance of male writers who are praised! I’m so glad that y’all commenters didn’t disappoint!

      Let’s keep naming female writers we think have written stories that are too popular. Surely these women writers don’t deserve to have their work so well-read…

  20. Kerry

      Anything by or on Tao Lin.

  21. TrueDat

      Fuck you, though, if you say “The Things They Carried” again, because if you’re 18 and you’ve never read it before, it rearranges your head. Just because you’ve read it ten times doesn’t earn you the right to withhold it from someone who’s never read it before. Same for a lot of these stories you are mentioning. They’re anthologized again and again because they’re good and they’re powerful and they have staying power.

  22. Sean

      That’s about as perceptive as Chili’s.

  23. Sean

      It’s also more males when you wrote this, Col Sanders.

  24. TrueDat

      This is also a bullshit response.

  25. Sean

      You’re wrong and right. That’s not why they are anthologized, but thanks for the Kool Aid.

      The reason Nike sells the most shoes is because they are the best shoe! Right?!

      But I like your age 18 point. then again, at 18, if someone said, “Hey, you know you have free will?” It would blow the mind.


  26. TrueDat

      You must be a terrible teacher. I mourn for your students.

  27. John Minichillo

      Rock Springs.

  28. lily hoang

      Yeah, that was the “complacent” part of my statement. I was “asked” to teach those stories for one school, and I didn’t bother changing the syllabus for the next course (or the one after, etc.). If I ever teach again, I will do major renovations.

  29. Sean


  30. Kerry

      Also, Ray Bradbury.

  31. Matt

      Good Man is Hard to Find? Come now…

  32. Ronnie

      I get sick of having to teach the same old represent-a-genre stories in Intro classes
      Like, AHWOSG for “see what you can do with a memoir” week
      Axolotl by Julio Cortazar for “south america is a continent” week

  33. Ronnie

      (but this is super-selfish because the students are fascinated and excited every time.)

  34. efferny jomes

      my dick

  35. sp

      Hempel – “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”

      Just…not a fan. Don’t think it should be anthologized as much as it is.

  36. Guest

      “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

      /end thread

  37. Guest

      “Jesus’s Son”–please get over this story, people, and stop trying to rip-it off in workshop when you’re not ripping off Lorrie Moore.

  38. Tim Horvath

      I get your point, but Jesus’ Son is the collection, unless you’re talking about something I haven’t read. Maybe you mean the much-antho-ed “Emergency”?

  39. Guest

      My bad. Yes, I meant “Emergency.’

  40. anon

      ditto A&P

  41. Taylor

      The Most Dangerous Game.

  42. deadgod

      So, lily, the problem, as developed in the intervening subthread, isn’t that these stories you mention are “overrated”, but rather, that almost no story can stand up – for almost any teacher – to an escort-through with (relatively) inexperienced readers: the same misprisions, the same challenges, the same shiny-faced new enthusiasms, the same slow dawnings or confirmed biases – e v e r y semester.

      As I experienced it, Sean’s right: a department might have a basic anthology/reading list for some particular class – quality control, predictability to calm students, (sadly) refuge for burned-out auto-teachers – , but the profs I actually had had and (mostly) enjoyed syllabus freedom.

  43. Guest

      MOURN! jesus.

  44. deadgod

      fascinated and excited every time

      A constructive perspective, surely. But why can’t you represent “genres” with equally representative, perhaps better (perhaps a lot better) texts??

      see what you can do with a memoir: The Book of Embraces; Running in the Family
      South America is a continent where they write stories: Borges, Garcia Marquez, Luisa Valenzuela
      see what you can do with the continent of South America: Antonio Porchia

  45. David K

      Please tell me you’re joking. Of the stories mentioned thus far, there are an equal number by men as by women. In fact, one of the stories by a woman mentioned–“The Lottery”–was mentioned as one NOT to mention, that is, as a story that *should* be read. If we count Scorch Atlas–a joke, of course–there were 5 men mentioned; if we count Shirley Jackson, there are 5 women mentioned. If we *don’t* count Scorch Atlas, and *don’t* count Jackson because it’s not being criticized, we come up with 4 men and 4 women.

      If your post is not a joke, it’s offensive; if it is a joke, it’s a dumb joke at best.

  46. mjm

      Man I met ray bradbury, and from how cool he is, I cannot stress how his name should be known to every generation. The man supports used bookstores. When Acres of Books in Long Beach was about to be sold and torn down, he made a trip out to profess his love of used books and the bookstore. He brought out every newspaper from the LA Times on down to the LA Weekly. Mans a fucking legend.

  47. mjm

      I tried to make a Siberian bear trap once, in my backyard. I wanted to catch a friend of mine.

  48. Tim

      I back up Lily in her laziness.

  49. Tim

      I think it’s actually perfectly balanced as of your comment. But I didn’t like–take notes on numbers so maybe it’s slightly wobbly either way.

  50. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Which one is Emergency? The story I remember most from that collection is the one where they’re at the hospital where they work doing drugs and then later they’re outside and it’s snowing.

      I’ve never read any of the teach-these-to-your-students-type anthologies.

  51. Ryan Call

      thats emergency, with the rabbits, the guy with the knife in his head, the drugged out guy thinking he’s mopping all the blood off the floor.

  52. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      I am disappointed in myself, I feel like my taste is usually more idiosyncratic.

  53. Trey

      I wanted to say this but knew I would get called sexist. But since everyone in the thread has already been called sexist by someone in the comments earlier, I’m just going to say, damn, yes, this story.

  54. Guest

      Oh, geeze. PC run amok. And I consider myself a feminist. I don’t even have a problem with the story, more than the fact that, as an instructor, I’m often handed anthologies filled with stories that most students have already read a million times.

  55. stephen

      bro… cortazar is the shit

  56. stephen

      damn, mfbomb teaches classes. fml.com

  57. stephen

      damn, that was haterrific. what’s really good, mfbomb. let’s be friends

  58. Guest

      Yep, sure do. You could learn a thing or two from me. First thing we’d discuss is how much Tao Lin sucks.

  59. Daniel Bailey

      sylvia plath

  60. Sean

      God that story is horrible.

  61. Igor

      The Swimmer? I don’t know.

  62. christopher.

      Every time I read some of her poetry, I can’t help but hear “How now brown cow.”

  63. Kevin Spaide

      First name to pop up – Emily Dickinson? What the hell’s wrong with Emily Dickinson? I know it’s mean weak, but, wow, cut the woman some slack.

  64. Kevin Spaide

      this one

  65. NLY

      Fucking Mary Fucking Oliver Fucking.

  66. Richard Thomas

      Agree. Bradbury is the man.

  67. Matthew Simmons

      I fondly remember Bradbury defending Bob Packwood (Hey! Remember Bob Packwood everyone!) on Politically Incorrect in 1992 by saying: “I sexually harassed a woman at work until she finally gave in and married me!”

  68. lorian long

      the shawl, anything by sherman alexie

  69. seamus


  70. Marcus

      Araby, by James Joyce
      The Gift, by O. Henry

      It is to barf.

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