I’ve been on a short story kick lately – writing them, reading them, being generally obsessed with the fantastic work going on in this area by a lot of the talented writers out there. As a result, I’ve been talking to everyone who will listen to me about the various collections I appreciate (that’s right, both of you…).
Sometimes I draw a blank, though. Like last night at my critique group, after I did a quick reading of the first half of one of my new short stories, one of the new members asked me for a list of collections I thought they should check out (in conversation, I’d mentioned one or two). Although I knew I had a long list of writers and collections to recommend in my head, I froze, unable to name even one more (such pressure!).
So tonight I decided to document a list right here on my blog that I hope to keep updated as I continue to enjoy more of these collections. I’ve read a lot more collections than these, but if I really enjoy one in its entirety, I’m going to try to include it here.
That way, next time I’m asked, I can just say, “Check out that entry on my blog for a full list.”
- “We Live in Water” – Jess Walter – such a broad range of styles and subject matter. Really skillfully done.
- “You Only Get Letters from Jail” – Jodi Angel – stories of young men stuck in that tender age between teenager and adulthood, written in an engaging, tumble-down-a-hill style
- “Knockemstiff” – Donald Ray Pollack – an unforgettably bleak collection of stories all set in the same area of rural Ohio
- “The Things They Carried” – Tom O’Brien – one story in this collection contained some of the most powerful writing I’ve ever experienced. I recommend in particular the audio version read by Bryan Cranston
- “Revenge” – Yoko Ogawa – dark magical realism tales written in that wondrous Japanese style reminiscent of some of the best Haruki Murakami
- “The Opposite of Loneliness” – Marina Keegan – this young woman’s life was cut way too short. This collection demonstrates the brilliance she left behind. Contains stories as well as essays.
- “Fragile Things” – Neil Gaiman – Gaiman’s stories are my original short story loves.
- “Smoke and Mirrors” – Neil Gaiman – yes, that’s anything by Neil Gaiman.
I’m not going to include a list at this time, but if you’re interested in flexing your short story muscles as a writer, I also recommend consuming comic books as well. There’s so much great short fiction going on in that medium all the time.
What are some of your favorites?
Neil Gaiman is just fantastic.