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Go Read Some Short Stories

Here’s a broad generalization: people don’t read enough short stories. I’ve done no real research to back this claim, but my own natural inclination to avoid the short story serves as evidence. Perhaps I read so many annoyingly banal postmodern short stories as a college student that they soured me on the entire genre. Recently I’ve worked hard to cure my aversion to the short story. It’s helped me to imagine the short story as something akin to meeting a really interesting person at a dinner party. You don’t really have know the person well–or at all maybe–but you get to hear this really great story, and it can be quite engaging and meaningful. Short stories are also perfect if you’re suffering from the ability to concentrate on a long book, too! (Perfect for those of us that suffer from ADHD, self-diagnosed or otherwise.)

So, bearing this in mind, included below are a handful of great collections of short stories to get you started. If you’re like me and have dismissed short stories for far too long, fret not, it won’t take long to read a few to see what you think. If you’re already a fan of short stories and I’ve left out a favorite collection of yours, please add it to the comments section below! - Brad Allen, Library Director

book coverWhat He’s Poised To Do by Ben Greenman
From a portrait of an unfaithful man contemplating his own free will to the saga of a young Cuban man’s quixotic devotion to a woman he may never have met; and from a nineteenth-century weapons inventor’s letter to his young daughter to an aging man’s wistful memory of a summer love affair in a law office—each of these stories demonstrates Greenman’s maturity as a chronicler of romantic angst and as an explorer of the ways our yearning for connection informs our selves and our souls. -Publisher’s Description

book coverThe Collected Short Stories of Richard Yates 
Whether addressing the smothered desire of suburban housewives, the white-collar despair of Manhattan office workers, or the moments of terrified peace experienced by American soldiers in World War II, Yates examines every frayed corner of the American dream. His stories, as empathetic as they are unforgiving, are like no others in our nation’s literature. -From the Publisher’s Description

book coverCall It What You Want by Keith Lee Morris
Call It What You Want, a stunning story collection inhabited by dreams and disappointments, good intentions and small triumphs, chronicles the lives of men lost in the liminal spaces between adolescence and adulthood. For all their flaws – as husbands, as fathers, as friends – the characters are portrayed with depth, tenderness, and humanity. Morris’ writing has been compared to that of Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Richard Russo, and Call It What You Want balances realism with the surreal, humor with sadness, and explores all the hidden places in between. -From the Publisher’s Description

book coverThe Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
Aimee Bender’s stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. From the first line of each tale she lets us know she is telling a story, but the moral is never quite what we expect. Bender’s prose is glorious: musical and colloquial, inimitable and heartrending. Here are stories of men and women whose lives are shaped–and sometimes twisted–by the power of extraordinary desires, erotic and otherwise. – From the Publisher’s Description

book coverLong, Last Happy by Barry Hannah
Hannah’s wit is caustic, shot through with social commentary and gleefully interspersed with bursts of slapstick comedy. Hannah easily links themes, characters, and places–particularly his longtime home of Oxford, Miss., and its flagship school, Ole Miss–without drawing unnecessary attention to connections. This collection reminds that Hannah, even in death, will always be “on the black and chrome Triumph, riding right into your face.” -From a Publisher’s Weekly review



One Comment

  1. Nic Kotlinski says:

    Roberto Bolano’s ‘The Insufferable Gaucho’, Gogol’s ‘The Overcoat and Other Short Stories’, and Anton Chekov.

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