Short stories are sort of the underdogs of the literary world. I say sort of because I think poetry is the true underdog. Personally, I love short fiction. It fits well with my ability to concentrate and my time for reading as of late (not long and not much, respectively). And because of my book pushing nature, I want everyone else to give them a chance too. I would love for this to be an elegant plea to read some of the wonderful short story collections there are (and please note I’ll be recommending modern short story collections, because if you somehow missed that you were supposed to read Flannery O’Connor at some point in your life, you need to ask yourself who you are, what you’re doing, and get yourself to the library forthwith), but…it’s not. It’ll hopefully end up a mildly persuasive suggestion to pick up one of these books if you haven’t already.
And hey, it’s late Friday night, take chances, step outside your comfort zone, read a short story collection, and party hard. Because Daria says so*.
One for those who like their fiction a little weird: Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. Supernatural, macabre, and often quite funny, this quirky little collection is worth a shot.
One for those who like their fiction a little classic: Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work by Jason Brown. Weighty stories set in the desolate woods of northern New England. Also, what a great title.
One for those who like their fiction a little gritty: Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill. A group of stories featuring next to no characters you would ever want to meet.
One for those who like their fiction a little disturbing: Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock. Gorgeously written and worth every penny of the purchase price.
One for those who like their fiction a little scary: Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. It runs the gamut from excellent (The Mist) to plainly awful (Survivor Type)
One for those who like their fiction with a side of realism: The Things We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver. Just brilliant and possibly one of the pillars of the modern short story.
One for those who like their fiction just a little science fiction: The Universe in Miniature in Miniature by Patrick Somerville.
One for those who like their fiction linked: Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout. Both moving and sad, it’s a must read (and watch, for that matter).
As any good teenager of the ’90s, Daria and Angela Chase are my idols.
9 thoughts on “So You’re Thinking About Reading Short Stories? Consider Starting Here…”
Beneath the Bonfire!! Though I’m not a short story expert by any means since I’ve always shied away from them, I loved Beneath the Bonfire (and I know you did too). I felt like it was a good “starter”. And, now that I liked that one, I might try another one from your list 🙂
Thanks for all these suggestions. And I love the Daria image. 🙂
Love this post! I am one of those people that has a really hard time with short stories. When I love them, I love them, but oftentimes I just don’t connect or “get” them. My own failing. But for some reason, I’m always on the search for a good collection, perhaps because when they really connect I know I’ve really discovered something special. So I’m thrilled to have some new suggestions, thank you!
Because I generally read gritty and disturbing, I’ll say you hit the nail on the head with Crimes of So. Indiana and Knockemstiff. I also loved Alan Heathcock’s Volt, if you’ve not read that. Another favorite that sticks in my head is Juliet in August by Dianne Warren.
I really enjoyed Olive Kitteridge. I know a lot of people who don’t like short stories, and I used to be one of them, but in the last few years I think they’re perfect reading when things get really busy.
Great list – I want to try them all!
This is a great post. I’m a lover of short stories and strongly believe that people who don’t like short stories might like them better if they found just the right collection. Wonderful recs.
Wonderful post! I’ve been having a good run with short stories so it’s great to get a few more recommendations 🙂
All hail the shorts!! I agree that they don’t often get their due and I’m a huge fan. The only collections I’ve read on your list are Carver’s and Strout’s. Both fantastic. I’m still eager to watch the adaptation. I’m adding the rest. Nicely done!