I've read everything by Alice Munro--newest Nobel laureate--but probably the first story I read that simply blew me away was Royal Beatings. This was in the New Yorker. I stole some time from my graduate studies (not much time for recreational reading in grad school) and read it over and over and over. Later, I discovered the story in a book of interlocking stories called The Beggar Maid. I was at my first year in a "real" job and the book rep let me pick 5 books FOR FREE! I was so excited.
I still have my yellowing copy of that book. Somewhere. As the subtitle indicates, the stories center on Rose and her stepmother Flo. But the character of Royal Beatings who is most poignant is Rose's father, a poor working man, taciturn, abusive, and yet with a beautiful sensibility. Rose hears him recite lines of poetry as he works. One--the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces--is from Shakespeare's Tempest. This is easily findable nowadays with Google. But when I read it in grad school, I was thrilled to be able to identify it myself. I was such a serious student.