Posts filed under 'Short Stories'
McDonald’s collection of stories, most of which are interrelated in one way or another, defy simple description. “Improbable” is a good word, but does not fully convey the sense of wonder, hope, and simple humanity with which the collection as a whole leaves the reader. Set in a world much like our own, the stories weave together the lives and experiences of a motley cast of characters, Diana Comet herself foremost among them. Many of the characters, Diana Comet included, are gay or transgender in a world not much more friendly to such than our own, and struggling to find love and acceptance. In various stories, other improbable elements—from talking statuary longing for release to ghost stories come horribly to life to alien invaders seeking to control humanity’s morality—make themselves known, and always, McDonald’s vibrant protagonists fight to make things right.
Find Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories in our catalog.
April 8th, 2011
Fairy tales are not just for children. In fact, in their earliest incarnations, fairy tales were often violent and graphic, and were far from the sparkling, sanitized versions popularized in cartoons and picture books today. This collection of contemporary tales inspired by the motifs and themes of traditional fairy tales seeks to revitalize a literary genre that has often been relegated to the nursery. It mostly succeeds in doing so. Some of the tales are written in narrative styles so postmodern as to lose some of the visceral impact of their mythic content, but others speak to the shivery origins of the fairy tale effectively. Stand-outs in the collection include “The Color Master” by Aimee Bender; “Orange” by Neil Gaiman; and “Catskin” by Kelly Link.
Find My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me in our catalog.
March 13th, 2011
Seven interconnected stories muse on race, family, art, and addiction in Chuculate’s debut. The protagonist of most of these stories is Jordan, a young Native American boy raised on a farm by his impoverished grandparents. In subsequent stories, we meet several of Jordan’s relatives, including his uncle, Johnson Freebird, a famous Indian artist who falls prey to alcoholism. In another story Jordan, now a famous Indian artist in his own right, tries desperately to reconnect with his father, Shorty, a down-an-out alcoholic always one step away from homelessness and two away from the grave. Ironically, their main connection is the addiction they both share—an addiction that may end Jordan’s career the way it ended Johnson Freebird’s. The drama of living a creative life while struggling with one’s own personal and familial demons is powerfully displayed here by Chuculate’s straightforward and unsentimental prose.
Find Cheyenne Madonna in our catalog.
December 13th, 2010
Kiernan, who has been described as “H.P. Lovecraft’s spiritual granddaughter,” here presents a collection of 20 short stories displaying her characteristic dark, tightly crafted genre stories that range from horror through dark fantasy through ghost story and the just plain unexplainable. Kiernan’s prose is visceral and throbbing, and her imagery is taut, often using abstruse scientific terminology when describing the utterly unreal and nightmarish. Sexuality and obsession pulse through many of the stories and the narrators often find themselves in the thrall of hypnotically powerful and not-quite-sane lovers. Stand-outs in the collection include the title story, in which a serial killer and a violinist both achieve the pinnacle of their craft; “The Madam of the Narrow Houses,” featuring a woman born to minister to ghosts; and “The Lovesong of Lady Ratteanrufer,” in which a troubled young woman falls in love with the king of the rats and brings her own sort of doom to his enemies.
Find The Ammonite Violin and Others in our catalog.
October 12th, 2010
Well-known and versatile author Gaiman here wears his editor’s hat, pulling together 27 stories by modern masters of both “genre” fiction and “literary” fiction. Gaiman’s introduction tells us that his only criteria was to find stories which leave the reader asking “And then what happened?”
Consequently, narrowing down the genre of most of these stories would be difficult. They bend genre conventions, play with tone and trope. Many of the stories here have a touch—or more—of the supernatural. Some are outright fantasy, or clearly science fiction. Some are simply engrossing. Stand-outs in the collection include Gaiman’s own story, “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” Joe Hill’s “The Devil on the Staircase,” and Elizabeth Hand’s “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon.”
Find Stories: All-New Tales in our catalog.
October 3rd, 2010
Damaged and damaging young girls and young women (and one young boy) are the stars of Kyle’s eleven moving and almost painful short stories. The process of maturity is never an easy or smooth one for Kyle’s protagonists, some of whom willfully throw themselves into paths leading to self-destruction, others of whom learn both the costs and the benefits of betraying others for self-gain. Stand-outs in the collection include “Nine,” “Sex Scenes from a Chain Bookstore,” and the title story. Recommended for fans of the short fiction of Lorrie Moore, Margaret Atwood, and Aimee Bender.
Find Boys and Girls Like You and Me in our catalog.
July 6th, 2010
Danticat is undoubtedly the most well-known contemporary Haitian author. Her novels deal with Haiti as it is, as it was, and with the immigrants from Haiti who are trying to make their way to better lives in unfamiliar cultures.
In Haitian culture, a storyteller will say “Krik?” to ask if the audience wants to hear to a story, and the audience responds by saying “Krak!” to indicate they are ready to listen. Krik? Krak! is a series of short stories linked by some common themes including the importance of storytelling. The political and economic history of the island is the backdrop for many of the stories and through them the reader is able to gain some understanding not only Haitian history, but also the effects the political upheavals have had on its citizens. Krik? Krak! was a finalist for the National Book Awards and is highly recommended reading for anyone wanting to know more about Haiti, its history, and its current challenges.
Please Join us for a discussion of Krik? Krak! led by Judy Levin on Monday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m.
Find Krik? Krak! in our catalog
May 3rd, 2010
This debut collection of short stories shines. Van Den Berg’s protagonists, mostly young women, are on quests ranging from the absurd to the dangerous. Often they are reeling under the impact of a life tragedy and using their quests or projects—playing Bigfoot in a theme park; searching for a rare, nigh-extinct flower near Loch Ness; swimming for long distances in the oceans off Madagascar—as a way through the grief to the other side. Each story is highly polished and finely crafted, and each character—quirky and damaged as they all are—is believable and sympathetic. Standouts include “Where We Must Be,” “Goodbye My Loveds,” and the title story.
Find What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us in our catalog.
April 19th, 2010
This brilliant little collection of stories by award-winning author Byatt covers a wide range of topics and styles, often incorporating mythological or folkloric imagery to great effect. Byatt’s protagonists are frequently trapped–either literally or more figuratively–in the day-to-day details of their own lives and in the expectations of others, and are looking for ways out that sometimes come in surprising forms. From the repressed doctor who reaches out to a free-spirited young artist to the middle-aged spinster who finds herself becoming a creature of stone out of Icelandic myth to the pair of very different adult women whose childhood sighting of a loathsome dragon has haunted them, they find redemption at best and find their comfortable assumptions shaken at least.
Standouts in the collection include “The Thing in the Woods,” “The Stone Woman,” and “The Pink Ribbon.”
Find The Little Black Book of Stories” in our catalog.
March 22nd, 2010
I’ve always enjoyed short story collections. You can dip in and out of them at will when you’re too busy or otherwise distracted to sit and read a longer format, or you can choose to read straight through, delighting in each separate story. Many people dislike the short form, but I’ve always found a well-crafted short story to be like a perfectly cut gem with each facet reflecting just enough light to tell you what you need to know about depth, clarity, and flaws. Here are some of my personal favorite single-author collections.
Atwood, Margaret. Dancing Girls
Bender, Aimee. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
Byatt, A.S. The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek
De Lint, Charles. Dreams Underfoot
Gaiman, Neil. Fragile Things
Hill, Joe. 20th Century Ghosts
Klages, Ellen. Portable Childhoods
Le Guin, Ursula K. Buffalo Gals
Link, Kelly. Pretty Monsters
Moore, Lorrie. Self-Help
February 22nd, 2010
Perhaps most famous these days for her short story (adapted into a movie) “Brokeback Mountain,” Annie Proulx has plumbed the depths of the American Great Plains in her collections of Wyoming stories. But before she wrote about the prairie, Proulx set many of her tales in rural New England.
In “Heart Songs and Other Stories,” a collection published in 1995, Proulx explores both the traditions of these backwoods areas and families, and also the myriad ways in which the modern world is intruding and changing traditional ways. In writing about rural areas, a sense of romanticism is often evident, but not here. Proulx’s writing is clear-eyed and unsentimental about the people and places she is describing, while her language manages to be both lyrical and vivid. She is at her strongest when relating the details of the quotidian. The stories, like the people in them, simmer with emotions deep below the surface, but are outwardly reserved and undemonstrative. Standouts include the title story, “Stone City,” and “Negatives.”
Find Heart Songs and Other Stories in our catalog.
November 23rd, 2009
It’s wonderful to get advance copies of books that I will actually have time to read before they’re published. In this case, a copy of Grisham’s latest turned up on my desk just when I had finished the last in my pile of recent releases.
Ford County is a short story collection. The stories are linked by their common setting in Ford County, Mississippi, which is also the setting for A Time to Kill. Grisham’s stories cover criminals, attorneys, the lucky and the not so lucky residents of the area. Each story is compelling and unique with measured pace unlike that of many of his thrillers. Although the stories involve the legal system, it is not the main focus of all of the stories. For those who have not read Grisham, this is an excellent place to start. I also recommend this one for Grisham fans, short story aficionados, and those who appreciate legal fiction.
Find Ford County in our Catalog.
November 5th, 2009