Next to novels, short stories are always on my radar. I pretty much always have a collection that I am working on and I tend to take my time with them. Unless they are linked. And I’m not picky about what’s behind the cover: stories that leave you hanging, connected or strange, I’m game. I know they are not for everyone but I’m hoping with this list, one might catch your eye and you’ll give them a try.
Of course, reading an entire collection is ideal, but in this list I’ll try to highlight a few to definitely check out. *All were released this year except two that I waited much too long to read.
The Shore – Sara Taylor. These linked stories MUST be read in its entirety. Familiar yet weird. Swept me away to another world and leaves much to discuss.
*The Temple of Air – Patricia Ann McNair. I wish I could remember who told me to read this or where I saw it reviewed but picking one or two stories from this collection is very difficult. In fact, they span over three decades and intersect so just read them all. If you loved The Shore, I highly recommend this collection.
Beneath The Bonfire – Nickolas Butler. This collection made me appreciate living in the Midwest which is pretty difficult, if you know me. “The Chainsaw Soiree”, “Beneath the Bonfire” and “Sweet Light Crude” are ones not to miss.
Let Me Tell You – Shirley Jackson. These unpublished stories are pure Shirley Jackson but then we also get to see a humorous side to her with drawings, essays and topics of family. I’ve been savoring this collection since it came out in July, for she is the author who made me fall in love with shorts. I’ve been skipping around since I got the book, but the ones that are just as creepy and weird as her other works are “Paranoia”, “Company For Dinner”, and “The Lie”. Some quirky and funny family stories are “Mother, Honestly!”, “How To Enjoy A Family Quarrel”, “The Pleasures and Perils of Dining Out With Children” and “On Girls of Thirteen”.
In The Country – Mia Alvar. There are only nine stories in this debut collection but they are equally powerful. Title story “In The Country” and “Miracle Worker” really struck a nerve.
The Grownup – Gillian Flynn. I first read this story in the George R.R. Martin collection Rogues where Flynn wrote a story titled “What Do You Do?”. It was recently released with a new title on it’s own in October and it’s creepy, daring and very Gillian Flynn. That opening line?! Ha!
Music For Wartime – Rebecca Makkai. After reading this collection I want to read her backlist, what a voice. “The Miracle of Little Fork” and “The Museum of the Dearly Departed” were my favorites. A strong, inventive writer.
The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra. I read somewhere describing this collection as one big story broken into scenes. Exactly how it felt. Read them all in order.This collection is one of the best I’ve read and it’s brand new yet feels like a classic.
A Manual For Cleaning Women – Lucia Berlin. I just finished reading this collection, so I’m still raw for words. Berlin focuses on women from all walks of life, relationships, loneliness and shame. I read them out of order and I started to wonder if they were autobiographical because some of the same characters show up in different stories and they really felt personal. I looked up information about Berlin and found her to be extremely fascinating. She was quoted as saying, “I exaggerate a lot and I get fiction and reality mixed up, but I don’t actually lie.” Read “Mama”, “My Jockey”, “A Manual For Cleaning Women”, “Angel’s Laundromat”, “Homing”, just read them all.
Do you have any favorite short stories or collections you read this year?