While technically a short story, I think this still qualifies for the Cannonball. If graphic novels count, then I’m including this.
And I’m a bit of an iconoclast, so there.
This classic of Japanese literature formed the basis for the iconic Akira Kurosawa movie, Rashomon. It tells the story of a young man’s murder via the viewpoints of seven different individuals, ranging from the woodcutter who found the body to the spirit of the victim, himself (via a medium). That fairly well sums up the story.
Why this is notable, however, is that each version of the story is (to one degree or another) inconsistent with the other accounts. None of the witnesses are wholly reliable, and all are trying to paint themselves in the best light. The three main characters (Takehiro, the victim, his wife Masago, and the thief Tajomaru), moreover, shouldn’t be telling the lies that they are. Takehiro claims to have committed suicide. Masago claims to have killed Takehiro before failing to kill herself. Tajomaru also claims to have committed the murder, at the behest of Masago.
Though all characters make counter-intuitive and conflicting lies, there’s an internal logic to all of them. Takehiro’s supposed suicide was an act of strength to preserve his honor. Masago’s supposed motive for murder was to preserve her honor following her rape by Tajomaru. He, in turn, supposedly defeated Takehiro in single combat out of love for Masago.
Ultimately, this is a story about the nebulous nature of eye witness testimony, and the tenuous relationship people have with the truth.
And the story is barely longer than this review.