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Currently reading...

Editado: Oct 15, 2006, 8:06 pm

I thought a thread of our current short story collection reads would be fun. Please share...

I'm now reading How is This Night Different by Elisa Albert. This is the Brooklyn author's debut publication. Each story takes a different Jewish event and superimposes irreverence, pain, and humor to produce what I found to be very entertaining stories. You'll have to read them yourself to see what I mean.

My favorite story is "When You Say You're A Jew" which reminded me of when I was young and went to visit a synagogue in Spain.

I'm not sure how much someone would get out of these stories who is not familiar with at least some Jewish customs, phrases, and holidays, but I do think it's worth at least a try from everyone. I'd say to skip this book if you're one who is easily offended when somewhat sexually-oriented prose is mixed in with religious topics.

If you've read this book, I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Dic 1, 2006, 11:39 pm

Currently reading the story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander. Just started it yesterday and am about 3/4 the way through it. On the whole I am thoroughly enjoying the collection but admittedly there are some stories that have arrested my attention more than others. Not sure yet if all of the utterly "brilliant" and "astounding" accolades I recall having been lavished on the book will be my ultimate assessment but if I had to hedge my bets right now, I'd say no---I'm finding the collection is uneven so far. But to be sure, Englander certainly is gifted and there have been some transcendant moments so far in my reading. I would definitely recommend it and would read anything new by him so see if his writing is developing and/or transforming.

Editado: Ene 19, 2007, 11:01 am

I'm currently reading William Trevor's behemouth 1992 published Collected Short Stories, and keeping a journal, writing my impressions and thoughts after reading each story. This collection contains over a quarter century of his work.

Ene 19, 2007, 10:13 am

Ene 19, 2007, 11:06 am

That's a great collection, seemingmeaning. That was the first Carver I ever read and remember being just stunned by those stories.

Ene 19, 2007, 2:35 pm

I'm currently reading Heat and Other Stories by Joyce Carol Oates, a collection of 25 short stories that she wrote in the early '90s. I've read 20 of the 25 stories so far and have found almost all of them to be memorable. Oates has a way of packing lots of character development and plot twists into stories of only a dozen or so pages.

I generally read short stories as breaks from whatever novel or non-fiction book that I'm reading at the time, so the 20 stories read to this point were read over the last 6 takes me a while to finish a book of short stories.

Mar 17, 2007, 12:25 pm

I'm currently reading a *huge* book (691 pages) called T.C. Boyle Stories. It's actually a book of short stories that combines some of his previously published work. I actually like his short stories much more than I do his fiction. Boyle's writing is sharp, and in his short stories, he comes directly to the point...something which is missing from and drives me crazy about his novels.

The last story I read was called "Descent of Man" about a guy whose girlfriend seems to like the ape she's working with more than she does him. It's a weird story which reminds me in a way of the novel The Woman and the Ape by Peter Hoeg.

I'd recommend this Boyle book. It's the kind of huge book that is nice to have at hand when you're in the mood for a short story and want it to be well-written and very interesting. All I've read so far are certainly both!

Abr 21, 2007, 10:07 am

I currently making my way through The Dark Descent, a massive anthology of short horror stories. So far, highly recommended. I'd suggest skipping the introduction (there's nothing more boring than an editor trying to explain the concept behind their anthology) and go straight to the stories.

9quietprofanity Primer Mensaje
Abr 29, 2007, 9:00 am

I read bits of Points of View: Revised Edition and 30/30: thirty American stories from the last 30 years when I stop by my Mom's house (I moved out in December and a lot of my library is still back at home). Introductions are a little cheesy, but they are a good intro to new short story lovers who are trying to figure out what they like.

Abr 29, 2007, 9:05 am

Am reading The Female of the Species by Joyce Carol Oates which is a collection illustrating that the axiom from which the title is taken is true. So far so good, but I do notice a similarity in tone and perspecive among a few of them.

mayo 2, 2007, 2:53 pm

Now reading The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor.

mayo 10, 2007, 11:15 am

Great choice, seemingmeaning. That's one of my "desert island" books.

mayo 11, 2007, 8:28 am

Roberto Bolano's "Last Evening's on Earth", a group of short stories, so far, all about writers who don't write well and live poorly.
He writes well, but the stories are hard to take. More than once, i've put the book down, swearing i won't go back. Righ tnow i'm leaning towards reconsidering, if only for one more story.

mayo 11, 2007, 9:34 am

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Intriguing. You don't want to read the stories, yet you keep going back for more. What is it about the stories specifically that make them "hard to take", and what keeps pulling you back?

I am reading two books of short stories off and on. I'm still working on T.C. Boyle Stories but also just started Delta of Venus by Anais Nin.

mayo 11, 2007, 10:51 am

The best of Robert Heinlein much better than his more famous works so far, though it is dated.

mayo 14, 2007, 8:25 am

-- > SqueakyChu,

thanks for the reply and the question! i've been asking myself the same thing.

re Bolano's draw,

in the first few stories of "Last evening's on Earth", i chuckle here as i write this, but yeah . . . i saw myself. the writer who's just not that good, and the sufferings he has to live with. and the stories themselves, while not the stories i'd love to write, are well written.
following those few stories, there's a longer story centered around one woman character that is in a different voice, and twice so far i've put the book back in my car determined to take it back to the library unfinished.
maybe i'll jump over the end of that story and give him one more chance .. .

i don't know, i don't know .. .

mayo 14, 2007, 8:47 am

I've recently started reading P.G. Wodehouse collections of short stories, and also John Mortimer Rumpole short stories.
Basically on a vintage England kick. Really enjoying them, and loving the fact that there's loads more books to read after I finish these ones :-)

(They're all library books so not in my catalogue)

Editado: mayo 14, 2007, 9:23 am

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Hi Tim_Watkinson,

In most books of short stories, I find the stories tend to be uneven. What I mean is that not all the stories are equally as good. If you skip some of the stories while being drawn to others, you might be missing the best stories by the time you are finished. That certainly might be true if you don't finish the book.

Most authors will start their short story collections with a strong story to get you interested in their collection. One book that did not do such a thing was the How Is This Night Different. When I wrote that post, I had not finished the book. Oddly enough, I think the best story was the last one! The book itself started out mediocre, but by the time I finished it, I liked it a lot.

A book of short stories in which all are excellent grabs my attention -- from those with well known authors such as Haruki Murakami and T.C. Boyle to recently known authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri for Interpreters of Maladies* or lesser known authors such as Z.Z. Packer for Drinking Coffee Elsewhere and Rattawat Lapcharoensap for Sightseeing.

I'm circulating the last three books as BookCrossing bookrays. If anyone would like to give them a try, please PM (private message) me through the BookCrossing messaging system.

*Touchstone loading incorrectly or not at all.

Editado: mayo 14, 2007, 9:20 am

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Editado: Dic 6, 2007, 9:13 am

I'm always dipping in and out of short story collections, but I've recently been focussing on Raymond Carver's Where I'm Calling From, his personal selection of his best work, and there's some marvellous stuff in here.

I'm also reading the short short stories of the wonderful Israeli writer Etgar Keret, mostly from The Nimrod Flip Out and The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God.

Dic 10, 2007, 6:29 pm

That Carver is a masterpiece, Grammath. Definitely "desert island" worthy.

Dic 10, 2007, 6:34 pm

Just read a couple from Clive Barker's 1st & 2nd Books of Blood.

Dic 10, 2007, 7:49 pm

I'm working on Leopoldo Lugones' Strange Forces the first work of Latin American science fiction.

Dic 29, 2007, 5:40 pm

I'm doing the 888 Challenge ("Read 8 books each in 8 different categories in 2008"), and included a category of short stories:

Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber
Stories of Anton Chekhov
The Best American Short Stories 2007
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver

I'm most excited about Lahiri's new collection.

Dic 30, 2007, 4:26 pm

I haven't quite finished the two collections I mentioned in post #20, but I've also been reading Raymond Chandler's The Simple Art of Murder.

Feb 14, 2008, 7:48 am

I've now finished The Simple Art of Murder and the two books in post 20 and have now moved onto my first collection by the Japanese master Haruki Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes. On the basis of the first couple of stories, which I read last night, his shorter fiction is up to the very high standards of his novels.

Feb 14, 2008, 8:21 am

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I simply loved The Elephant Vanishes. It took me forever to finish that book because I never wanted to finish reading his stores. I always wanted there to be more that I could read. When I was done, my college-age daughter quickly appropriated my book. That book (along with the elephant) has vanished among her things. :-)

28boulder_a_t Primer Mensaje
Feb 14, 2008, 7:19 pm

I'm picking my way through In the Stacks, Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians. Not nearly as geeky as it sounds. It's an anthology including Lorrie Moore, Saki, John Cheever and Alice Monroe. Favorite so far is "The Cobweb" from 1903 by Zona Gale. Biggest clinker is Ray Bradbury's "Exchange" which reads like one of the cornier old Twilight Zones.

Feb 14, 2008, 7:26 pm

Oh, by the way, best collection I've read in a long time is Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work by Jason Brown.

Mar 11, 2008, 11:04 pm

Mar 31, 2008, 9:57 am

Right now it's All Over by Roy Kesey, but I'll probably put it aside. Maybe I just don't appreciate flash fiction. If you do, give it a shot.

Mar 31, 2008, 12:12 pm


I loved The Elephant Vanishes too. Haruki Murakami's stature as a writer increases for me with each book of his I read.

Abr 2, 2008, 9:56 pm

Am reading The Collected Stories of William Trevor. Each one is a pleasure to read. He's the best that I've read.

Editado: Abr 9, 2008, 2:32 pm

I read a few weeks back In the Garden of North American Martyrs by Tobias Wolf. I picked up this
collection because Wolf is coming out with a new
compilation which will include rewrites of some of these stories, and I read recently that this is considered to be one of the most influential collections of stories
in the last thirty years. I really wasn't impressed with the stories. One or two were excellent, but the rest were pretty dull and mediocre.

Abr 24, 2008, 7:11 am

In preparation for an abortive attempt to go and see Will Self speak last night, I started his collection Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe. This contains the title novella, which is about 130 pages, and four other shorter stories.

Abr 24, 2008, 12:22 pm

I am reading, on the side, Slow Learner and loving it. The stories are better than Pynchon is willing to admit and show a great range. I like checking this thread out, but there are so many collections of stories worth reading, it is almost as discouraging as it is inspiring!

Abr 25, 2008, 4:48 pm

I am about to start Great American Stories an anthology of short fiction from the nineteenth century. I'm starting out with Nathaniel Hawthorne who I've never read before, and then moving on Herman Melville.

Abr 28, 2008, 11:29 am

I'm reading Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You by Alice Munro. I'm not a huge fan of realism as a genre, but Alice Munro is such a good writer that I always enjoy her work. The only slight criticism I have is that the range of the stories in this book is small: they are about similar women in similar situations. One or two stories with different settings or protagonists would provide the mixture with a little more seasoning.

Oct 29, 2008, 8:40 pm

I've been on a bit of a short story kick lately. I've just finished Dinner Along the Amazon by Timothy Findley (excellent Canadian author) who actually pays homage to John Cheever in Cheeverville;The Japanese Wife by an Indian-Canadian, Kunal Basu and Des yeux de soie by Françoise Sagan - those are quite repetitive (fast cars, beautiful rich aging ladies and their gigolos), but I enjoy them!

Nov 2, 2008, 3:00 pm

I'm bouncing back and forth between the Everyman Pocket editions of Ghost Stories and Christmas Stories, as well as Gogol's The Collected Tales.

There are a couple of volumes of Alice Munro, as well as the collected stories of both Tolstoy and Kipling lurking about waiting to be read.

Nov 4, 2008, 8:13 pm

I'm starting Nabokov's collected short stories. Haven't read any Nabokov before but I like the few I've read thus far.

Editado: Dic 29, 2008, 5:50 pm

Has anyone else read Jane Gardam's The People on Privilege Hill?
The author skewers her character's foibles with perceptive wit. The stories are varied - sometimes verging on the surreal. I'm not half-way through this collection yet, but am excited to have 'discovered' this author's short-story virtuosity.

Ene 9, 2009, 5:44 pm

Right now and recently: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July, which is fantastic and funny and something that couldn't possibly be more different, but also brilliant, The Collected Stories of Richard Yates.

Editado: Ene 9, 2009, 6:04 pm

Just read Jorge Luis Borges's Fictions. Hated it. Very weird. Does anyone *like* Borges? I'm just wondering what the draw is. He is a good writer, but the stories just weren't interesting to me...

Ene 10, 2009, 9:54 am

I really like Borges -- but it's true that I've never quite known why. I've read and reread both his fictions and non-fictions over the years, and they seem to have a strange way of working themselves deep into my mind.

But that's just me.

Ene 10, 2009, 5:28 pm

I've been reading Oscar Wilde's Complete Short Stories. Interestingly very different from his theatre. Most have a distinct fairy tale aspect to them.

I've also started an Anthology of Canadian Literature in English which will possibly last me throughout 2009!

Ene 10, 2009, 5:30 pm

#45 In response to your question - I had the same feeling when I read that book. I was never tempted to pick anything else by him. I must be too much of a realist...

Ene 21, 2009, 1:32 pm

i read my first collection of short fiction in a long while recently. It was The Faith Healer of Olive Avenueby
Manuel Munoz. Munoz is a Mexican American writer and all of the stories take place among Mexicans in
California. I thought two of the stories in a collection of ten were excellent, including the title story, but most of the rest of the collection didn't do much for me. The characters are highly unmotivated and I stopped caring about them.

Ene 21, 2009, 2:36 pm

I'm not sure how to describe what it is about Borges--a sort of abstract minimalism--he often foregoes standard elements such as characters or plot, yet his stories can be quite captivating. Sometimes I think they almost function as pure metaphor, which might reflect that he was a poet first. And for me, Borges was one of those writers who influenced the way I read a story.

All of which isn't to say I don't understand why he can leave readers cold. (My sister, for one, finds his fiction too abstract.) But he is one of my favorite authors and felt he deserves a defense.

I am reading Bruno Schulz' Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, full of his wonderfully surreal short stories.

Ene 22, 2009, 9:01 pm

>50 CarlosMcRey: I think it's the abstract that I didn't like. But I am glad that there are people who do like Borges!

Editado: Ene 29, 2009, 9:45 am

I've been concentrating on short stories lately and have found some gems.

The Taker and Other Stories - Rubem Fonseca
Animal Crackers - Hannah Tinti
Sightseeing - Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Dogwalker - Arthur Bradford

Editado: Ene 27, 2009, 3:40 pm

Dogwalker is awesome. I keep an eye out for more from Arthur Bradford, but I haven't noticed anything. However, if you don't like stories that are not strictly realistic, you probably won't appreciate Dogwalker.

I haven't seen anything from Pinckney Benedict lately but his short story collections town smokes and wrecking yard are both quite good. He and Laura Benedict put together an anthology called surreal south, but I haven't read it.

Ene 27, 2009, 9:34 pm

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You *did* find a gem. I'm referring to Sightseeing by Rattawat Lapcharoensap. I thoroughly enjoyed that book and am only sorry that barely anyone else has ever heard of that author or read his excellent debut book of short stories.

Ene 29, 2009, 9:45 am


Thanks for recommending Pinckney Benedict; I'll definitely look into this author. And yes, I have Lapcharoensap on my watch list.

I have a question...has anyone read anything by Brian Evenson? I hear his short stories are worth reading.

Ene 31, 2009, 8:57 pm

Borges - I'm with CarlosMcRey on this one - I love Borges' fiction - it suits the way my mind works (although he is much more learned than I), and a lot of it is very funny as well ....

I'm currently reading NZ's premier short story writer, to whom the rest of us are doomed to be compared, Katherine Mansfield - a collection entitled "Stories", which it is just too much bother to get the correct touchstone for!

If anyone is interested in trying KM's work, many of her stories have recently been made available for free online:

Abr 28, 2011, 11:45 am

I have a short story category in my 75 Challenge. So far I've read Birds of America by Lorrie Moore and Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link. Others lined up are Demonology by Rick Moody and Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving.

If anyone is out there- what short stories are you reading?

Editado: Abr 28, 2011, 7:40 pm

I recently finished both Richard Matheson's Button, Button: Uncanny Stories and Jeffrey Ford's The Fantasy Writer's Assistant. As is the case with most collections, there were stories in each that really struck me along with a few that didn't, so much. Overall, though, I really enjoyed both books.

Abr 29, 2011, 12:11 pm

I see the Ford gets very good reviews. I'll add that to my list, and thanks!

Abr 29, 2011, 1:53 pm

Mstrust -- I liked his Empire of Ice Cream story collection even better (and really love the title story in that one).

Abr 29, 2011, 2:06 pm

I picked up, by mistake, The Stories of Richard Bausch. Good stuff, although I have not read them all. I don't see Ron Carlson mentioned. He is good too.

Abr 29, 2011, 2:46 pm

in the final section of A century of Sleuths which is a collection of the earliest detective fiction, starting with Poe and moving to Ellison.

Abr 29, 2011, 3:26 pm

>60 extrajoker: joker I think that one is why his name sounded familiar. I'll have to check him out.

>61 slickdpdx: I haven't read any from him, so thanks for the rec.

>62 Bookmarque: Sounds like a good one. I have English Country House Murders, a collection with stories from Doyle, Wodehouse, P.D. James, Ngaio Marsh and Sayers.

Mar 28, 2012, 3:10 pm

Thought it high time that this thread get a bounce!

Just joined this group - hello everyone! I've always loved short stories and am currently enjoying Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff - a collection of selected and new stories from the American author of This Boy's Life and the fine novella The Barracks Thief.

Abr 4, 2012, 3:19 pm

Greetings! I too just joined for the April challenge. Aside from that I am reading Burning Your Boats, which is the collected short stories of Angela Carter. My first exposure to Carter was her Saints and Strangers, which I thought was a masterful collection, so I went out and got the whole works.

Abr 4, 2012, 3:36 pm

Nothing like a challenge to wake up a group :)

I am reading Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance which is as expected :) And I am making my way through a few fiction magazines.

Abr 4, 2012, 3:50 pm

Nothing like a challenge to wake up a group

See what you've done, Annie! ;-)

Abr 4, 2012, 3:54 pm

I needed company to talk about short stories :)

Abr 4, 2012, 7:03 pm

I'm very glad you took the initiative. I too love short stories. It is wonderful to have a forum to talk about them. Thanks very much!

Abr 6, 2012, 9:59 am

I've finished David Medalie's The Mistress's Dog: Short Stories 1996-2010, and have now moved on to 50 Great Short Stories, edited by Milton Crane. I've read the first 20 stories previously, so it should keep me busy for the rest of this month.

Editado: Abr 25, 2012, 2:16 pm

I've finished two short story collections this month:

Points of View, which is an anthology that I've been reading since Christmas. Many comments at my ClubRead thread if you want info on this best-of-the-best sort of collection:


Homesick, by Roshi Fernando, which is a "composite novel" made up of 17 short stories. My review of this will appear in the next edition of

I recommend both of these books.

Mar 21, 2013, 10:42 pm

Trying to find more time to finish Man's Work by John Connelly. 4 stories in and enjoying it so far.

Feb 24, 2014, 4:35 pm

Maybe we can start-up the discussion again. I am on a short story kick right now. I finished
reading The Best American Short Stories for 2013 which was for the most part excellent. One of the worst stories was by Daniel Alacorn, which really surprised me because I've heard he is
a great writer. It was an excerpt from his recent novel and it went on too long and it had
a play in the middle which was just silly. Now I am reading a collection of short fiction that first
appeared in The Paris Review. It's an interesting collection because each of the stories open with a commentary by a famous writer who suggested them . They elaborate on why they think the stories are so good. I'm in the middle of the first one and is it ever dense. It's a story by Joy Williams who I have never read and it has taken me two tries to figure out what is going on. The work is very lyrical and not entirely sensical but I'm enjoying it more then when I first started it, I couldn't make sense of what was going on then.

Mar 2, 2014, 12:05 am

Today finished Is that you, John Wayne?. Very enjoyable collection. My review is on LT.

Mar 2, 2014, 12:18 am

I'd love to hear your feedback on my Afternoon Light series.

Mar 18, 2014, 8:02 pm

Started today We Live in Water by Jess Walter.

Mar 24, 2014, 1:31 pm

Finished Andre Dubus 111's Dirty Love last week. For the most part it is a great collection of short novellas, Dubus' command of the language is just sensational. But almost all of the pieces are way too long, especially the title one which is about 138 pages and repeats the same information over and over again until I felt like screaming. I think he was aiming for a series of novellas and he just didn't have the material to make it happen. Still it is an entirely wonderful read just because he writes so beautifully. A very depressing look at love though, but I will read more of his work in the near future for sure.

Mar 25, 2014, 11:10 am

I loved We Live in Water!

I just finished The Paris Review Book of People With Problems which was surprisingly good, weird and interesting. One of their stronger collections, I do think.

Mar 25, 2014, 2:34 pm

I have We Live in Waterin my pile and really look forward to getting to it. One of the Walter stories is in the BASS collection that I'm reading right now so I will get a preview. Interesting that you loved this Paris Review book Carolyn because like you I hated the one where famous writers selected stories and I bailed on it. I will have to check this other one out.

Editado: Mar 28, 2014, 11:38 pm

Really enjoyed We Live in Water. Finished it over the weekend then started Poachers.

Mar 31, 2014, 1:08 pm

I am currently gradually reading through The Best Short Stories of 1931, edited by Edward J. O'Brien, and The Year's Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy: Second Annual Volume edited by Judith Merril. Both are terrific.

Mar 31, 2014, 1:13 pm

I'm reading The Last Animal, a collection of short stories by Abby Geni.

Mar 31, 2014, 2:24 pm

#81, it is my dream to read all of the BASS from the beginning. I looked at some of the very early editions (and a few are available for free on kindle)but I don't know most of the writers.
I would like to read them all the way through..a life-long project!How did you decide on 1931
or did you just happen to find a copy?

Mar 31, 2014, 5:54 pm

#83> I just found a copy, but where I found it, I no longer have any memory. Back in the 1980s when I was in grad school to study creative writing, I fancied myself a short story writer, so I used to collect short story anthologies, of which I still have several shelves. Once in a while I pull one down and start gradually reading through it. That was the case with my Best Short Stories of 1931. All I can tell you is that it has a library binding and so is obviously a library reject. When I get home later I'll see if there's any other information anywhere on the book. This particular year of the series is a pretty amazing one. Gathered here are stories by Faulkner, Fitzgerald ("Babylon Revisited," which I have to admit I skipped, having read it about a dozen times, it seems, in other anthologies over the past few years), Parker and quite a few other famous writers. All of these stories had been published in magazines for the very first time that year. Quite a crop!

Mar 31, 2014, 5:57 pm

Have now started Larry Brown's Big Bad Love.

Abr 1, 2014, 2:26 pm

#84>Anything much come of your graduate work in creative writing?(ie: Are you a famous writer writing under a disguised name?)

Editado: Abr 1, 2014, 4:15 pm

#86> No, I'm afraid not. At the crucial moment I took a teaching job instead of, say, a waiter job that would have allowed me to apply myself to fiction. Much later on, I made my living as a freelance writer. I'm afraid the most "famous" I ever got as a writer was when I was a freelance jazz journalist and had my byline in the San Francisco Chronicle and Downbeat Magazine fairly regularly. Now I own a used bookstore in a small city/big town. So much for fame!

Abr 2, 2014, 1:56 pm

rocketjk - Wow, The Best Short Stories of 1931 sounds awesome! Amazing what libraries reject! And hey, fame seems kind of over-rated. I am sure people tell you this all the time, but owning a used bookstore in a small town seems rather like heaven :)

alans - I agree that certain collections, especially from some publications (like Paris Review, ha), by big-name writers can kind of stink. But I really don't think all of the folks in that collection were "big" when they wrote those stories. Although I subscribe to Paris Review, I find it wildly inconsistent, but then again, creative in its choices of what to publish at times. But that collection The Paris Review Book of People With Problems was really quite good. A couple in there made my skin crawl, but hey, I kinda knew it going in! I would recommend it and if there are stories you don't like, settle on the ones you do.

Editado: Abr 2, 2014, 2:05 pm

"owning a used bookstore in a small town seems rather like heaven"

It is fun, but I wouldn't call it heaven. It is hard work, for one thing. People often tell me, "Owning a used bookstore is my dream job." My standard reply is, "It's not really a dream job. It's a work job." That's not a complaint, I do enjoy it, but it's much harder work than most people realize. I am in the store by myself either 4 days or 5 days per week on alternate weeks. I have one employee who works every Saturday and every other Monday. That's all I can afford, employee-wise. That means I never have an employee in the store with me, so there are a lot of things, like devising marketing strategies and doing local networking, that I don't really have the time to do. Those are the things necessary to make the store the best business that it can be. So I have to be content that the store can become successful only to a certain degree, but probably no more than that. So that gets frustrating. And I am always behind when it comes to going through the boxes of books customers bring me for store credit as well as other in-store projects I'd like to get to. It's also the case that have a half hour or so drive each way, so that also cuts down on my ability to spend time handling the business end of things. Etc.

So while it is a fun job and I enjoy the time in the store, mostly, and my customers, almost all the time, "heaven" is more than a bit of a stretch. I'm not complaining. I do really like it. Just a bit of a reality check for you, is all. :)

Editado: Abr 4, 2014, 7:38 am

I can totally see and get that rocketjk. I'm an attorney and it is just my Father and me in the partnership/business - and we have no staff. So no matter what time of day, day of the week, month, etc., if there is something to be done, or a deadline to be met, something to be typed/filed, or a computer to be fixed, or the walkway needs to be salted for the ice ... well, one of us has to do that. That does not even add in the time in court, at closings, meetings, etc. I think so much of that is just the joy, and struggle at times, of owning any business. But I decided long ago, I love practicing with my Dad and the other kinds of autonomy it brings ... and I hope never to go back to big-firm working (and I realize, gave up the money too). But it does take a spartan kind of lifestyle not all can do or can manage (e.g., bunch of kids destined for college and the like).

But you are right, heaven probably was a little overboard :)

I just finished the short story "Owl" by Emily Ruskovich, the new offering from ... very good, solid 4.5 stars.

Abr 5, 2014, 3:49 pm

Being a book lover, I confess to also looking at independent book store owners and thinking to myself that it must be a dream occupation. But of course like anything it is going to be a lot of hard work if it is going to be halfway successful.

I think we can all look at others' jobs or businesses sometimes and only see the nice and sunny side of things without considering or being aware of the frequent downsides that any occupation will bring. People see my inspecting a tree on a sunny day and say "that must be a lovely job...", and it can be on a good day; but like every other job it is full of tedious and sometimes odious functionary activities, shitty weather that has to be worked through, paperwork, and also having to often tell people unpleasant truths they don't want to hear. I guess we often look over a metaphorical fence and see the grass greener somewhere else...

Is it because imagination is often more pleasure than reality?

Abr 7, 2014, 1:29 pm

Finished reading Lorrie Moore's new book of short stories Barkand I really didn't like it. Moore is getting tons of attention for this collection (front page of the Times book review?)and it has to be based soley on her previous reputation because the book really lacks any urgency or anything of much interest. One of the stories which I had originally read in Harpersand I can't remember the title now, is exceptional. It's an homage to a famous Nabakov story and
when you read them back to back you see how wonderful her take on the similar but not identical story is.It's an instant classic, very much in a Carver style and deserves to be read and studied. One other story the first in the book which was much longer was very funny and sweet, but Moore adds some out-dated historical events to the story that are just not necessary. Throughout the book she uses a lot of humour and it is mostly sarcasm and witicism that didn't appeal to me. Most of the other stories are bland and meaningless. The longest story which runs over forty pages is just a big long bore which of course goes on for far too long.Incredibly she thanks at the back of the book Julian Barnes and Charles Baxter and I can't imagine what these reputable writers would have thought of these stories because they just really stank.

I also finished reading The Best American Short Stories of 2012, with Tom Perrotta being the guest editor of this edition. Strangely, Perrotta doesn't have a lot of experience writing short stories although he did write one collection many years ago and he just came out with another one a few months back which I liked quite a bit.I thought this was one of the weaker in the series of annuals, most of the stories again lacked urgency and were just fine, not much more. There is of course a great one by Alice Munro and a lovely one by Kate Walbertthat is very wise, I also really liked the short one by Jess Walterand now I'm looking forward to reading his new book. This is the fourth in the series that I've read and the more recent one was excellent, this one was fair. I love this series though and can not wait for the next one to appear, of course that won't be until October 2014 though!

Abr 7, 2014, 1:40 pm

Rocketjk-has the used book business changed since you've first started owning a store? I imagine a lot of people buy used books online, but do you find there is still a steady business for the store as perhaps before? I know in the city where I live new bookstores are closing
like crazy. And yet there seems to be new used book stores opening all the time.

Editado: Abr 7, 2014, 2:03 pm

alans - I don't get the hoopla with Lorrie Moore either. I certainly have tried too. I think dropping other authors' names helps create a "buzz" but the reality is most of those guys are buddies and I am not sure how much of that is honest or just helping out a friend.

That is a great question. I too see used bookstores open from time to time, and it seems the few independents left in my area carry both new and used. Our remaining Barnes & Noble is rather busy, but it seems mostly for the social and meeting aspects - or just places to go and not be home alone (?). That is going to be the saddest thing of all, when/if that is gone. Humans need gathering places.

Abr 7, 2014, 2:15 pm

The new Molly Antopol which I lovedThe Unamericanshas on the back cover tons of praise by famous authors. I found this odd since first books rarely get reviewed in advance of the book actually being published . But when you read the acknowledgements at the back of the book you realize that many of the people praising the book are the author's former teachers!

Abr 7, 2014, 3:38 pm

#93> alans, I only bought the store three years ago, so I knew what I was getting into, amazon- and kindle-wise. So I guess the short answer to your question is, no.

I've read a couple of articles in the past six months or so suggesting that there will always be a place for independent bookstores. Evidently, sales of new digital reading doohickeys is beginning to flatten out somewhat sooner than their manufacturers thought they would. Also, evidently the cave in of many of the bookstore chains had left more light in the forest for the independents. According to a Washington Post article I saw, more independent bookstores opened than closed in 2013. Finally, I have more young people, late teens through early 30s, coming into my store and having a blast looking for books than I might have expected would be the case. There was one other used bookstore in my relatively small town that recently closed, mostly because the owner, who was independently wealthy, just decided to go do something else. He had both new and used books. I've considered doing that, but to tell you the truth, one of the great aspects of the store is that, because my customers bring me so many cool books for store credit and because I love searching the thrift stores, I don't have to deal with vendors at all. Early on I decided to go that route for simplicity's sake. So, no bookmarks, no reading lights, no journals, no calendars, no greeting cards. I'm sure I could add a few shekels to my bottom line, but the simplicity of the model I've chosen makes me happier. The store has been in the black since I bought it, and improving slowly but surely as I've improved the stock and my customer base has grown (certainly, my competitor closing hasn't hurt that). But I could not, say, raise children and send them to college on what the store brings in.

Bottom line: It certainly would be more fun to own a used bookstore 30 years ago, but I do not have that option. :)

Abr 7, 2014, 4:52 pm

Sounds really great, would love to visit your store one day. Do you have a special section for
short stories or do you interfile them?

Abr 7, 2014, 5:40 pm

I have a section for anthologies. Short story collections for a single authors are just filed under the author's name in literary fiction.

Abr 9, 2014, 11:23 pm

Not reading yet but picked up 3 collections at St. Vinnie's today. New Stories from the South 2000, Dogwalker and Living to be 100.

Abr 10, 2014, 8:30 am

Beautiful, reflective and interesting thoughts on the business of business, book selling, used or otherwise. Thanks for sharing. One of my dreams is also to travel cross country (especially if I get another dog, which I hope to some day - still not quite recovered from the loss of my dear friend of 16+ years in August) and stop at used book stores, here or there, and write a small bit about each one.

I just ordered Raymond Carver: Collected Stories. My SS writing has picked up dramatically (in a "writing group" of sorts, so get wonderful critique and feedback), so I want to really go back to the "masters" with an eye towards further learning the craft - will also add in Alice Munro and John Cheever - all three of whom I've not explored deeply enough. I also will devour anything left I can of Larry Brown, who I thing was/is one of the best "unknown" writers out there.

Abr 12, 2014, 6:29 pm

I'm presently working my way through SF old-timer H. Beam Piper's series called Paratime. It's set in a multiverse where Homo sapiens sapiens is an invading species from Mars (clearly this is pre-gene sequencing) and the Neanderthals are the home-grown humans. The Martians arrive after their world becomes uninhabitable and being with them their immense head start in technology, including practical time travel.

The first story, published in 1948, was He Walked Around the Horses, a fun and indirect exploration of a frequent time-travel accident: The inadvertent transposition of a resident of one variant timeline to another. In this case, one where the USA never existed and the French Revolution failed. Imagine the confusion of a British diplomat to Austria who, running ahead of Napoleon's army as it occupies Austria, who lands up in a Prussian inn where these events are unknown and unthinkable. Solidly three and a half stars.

Abr 14, 2014, 2:26 pm

Finished last week Phil Klay'sdebut collection of short fiction Redployment. This book is getting a lot of praise and I can understand why. All of the stories deal with soldiers either fighting in the Iraq war or home from the war. The stories are violent and grim and quite depressing. I think Klayis a great writer, but after a while the stories started to sound the same and not being a big fan of military activity in the first place I got really tired of the stories in the book. I was about to bail before the last story but I'm really glad I stuck it out because the final one is a masterpiece. He really sums a lot up in that story and the ending is a gorgeous coda for the rest of the collection. In an interview I watched online Klaysaid he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life writing about Iraq, and I certainly don't want to read anymore of this sort of thing. But I think it will be very interesting to see what he does next because he's a very talented and powerful writer.

Abr 17, 2014, 1:06 pm

Just finished one hour ago David James Poissant's debut collection, Heaven of Animals and it is an astonishing collection. Poissant is very young but he writes with such confidence and wisdom and compassion that all of the stories in this book blew me away. He's just a great writer and I can't wait to see what he will come up with next. Some of the stories are just a few pages and some of them are a bit like the fantastic type of work that a lot of young writers are imitating these days. But most of the stories are of the hardscrabble school such
as work by Richard Ford and they are just totally delectable. A great, great collection. This
guy is very, very smart and very talented.

Abr 17, 2014, 1:40 pm

>102 alans: I have this collection on its way to me even now! I'm glad to hear it's a good read.

>103 alans: *sigh* I think I sense another Amazon purchase.

Jun 12, 2014, 3:18 pm

So quiet here..I continue to read lots of short fiction but one I just finished by a very small Canadian press I must mention because the book is so exceptional and note-worthy and I would love it if more people became familiar with this writer. Her name is Doretta Lau and her first collection of short fiction is calledHow Does A Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun.This is one of the strongest collections I've read in the past few months, and for a first collection it is incredible. I didn't care equally for every story, the first one was a bit too George Saunders-esque for me, but many of the stories are heart-breaking and some of them are very very funny. A major new talent from a tiny press. Doretta lives in Vancouver and
she writes mostly about Asian Canadians. If you love short fiction as I do, please check this out!

Jun 15, 2014, 8:45 am

I just finished reading this great round-up of 2014 Short Stories by David Abrams - you'll find lots to read here!

Jun 15, 2014, 10:34 am

>106 alphaorder: Thanks for sharing. Looks like a good list with plenty of interest.

Jun 15, 2014, 2:59 pm

Have just finished my first 5 star read of the year - Larry Brown's second collection 'Big Bad Love'. My review is here, cross-posted from my Club Read thread.

Jun 16, 2014, 9:31 pm

What an awesome link, alphaorder, thanks for sharing!

I am a little deep in a novel and reading for my yoga teacher studies, but will get back to short stories soon!

Jun 23, 2014, 7:46 am

Finished The UnAmericans this weekend. Now reading Edible Stories, whcih I am considerting connected short stories.

Jun 24, 2014, 8:42 am

I am reading One More Thing by B.J. Novak and it's a lot of fun, a nice change of pace from the super emotionally dark stories of late.

Jun 29, 2014, 11:34 pm

I've reviewed a weird little collection by Virginia Woolf, Monday or Tuesday, over im my #39.

It's fun reading, but of eight stories, two could be left out and no harm done. Not such a great average.

Jul 9, 2014, 6:30 pm

I reviewed a Kindle freebie called Like and Subscribe, a 50-page sweet and romantic tale of two young men falling for each other despite both of them being in love with the same wrong man. It was fun, and it's free, and there's no sex, so even y'all squeamish ones can relate! It's in my #43.

Jul 27, 2014, 5:40 am

I have begun to read The Stories by Jane Gardam. The characters so far seem so sad, so out of touch with their emotions (I suppose they must have some) that I really don't want to read much more about them. Perhaps the author means to skewer the grim snobbery and prejudice of the English 'class' system and its many risible consequences; I just find it all rather depressing.

Sep 26, 2014, 11:16 am

I finished We Were Flying to Chicago by Kevin Clouther which was overall, a very strong collection (and a bit different from contemporary SS offerings).

I am now reading New Stories from the South 2010 which is really good too.

Editado: Oct 3, 2014, 3:28 pm

I finished The Best Short Stories of 1931 edited by Edward J. O'Brien

This is a fascinating collection of short stories, in that it includes several iconic short stories that had appeared for the first time in 1931, and were therefore being anthologized for the first time.

The most famous stories included are "That Evening Sun Go Down" by Faulkner, "Babylon Revisited" by Fitzgerald, "Here We Are" by Dorothy Parker, "Rest Cure" by Kay Boyle and "Only We Are Barren" by Alvah Bessie. Other well known authors include Louis Bromfield, Erskine Caldwell, William March and Don Marquis. (I have to admit that I skipped "Babylon Revisited." I just couldn't face it one more time.)

A more in-depth consideration (or at least a longer one) of this collection can be found on the book's work page or on my 50-Book Challenge thread.

Editado: Oct 15, 2014, 8:18 am

I am reading a forthcoming collection by Megan Mayhew Bergman, Almost Famous Women. Enjoying it.

Oct 13, 2014, 9:13 am

I finished and reviewed the 5-star The Best American Short Stories 2014 edited by Jennifer Egan. I loved it!

Oct 13, 2014, 12:59 pm

I've just started a pair of short story collections. One is Murderers' Row: Original Baseball Mysteries, edited by Otto Penzler. The other is the New Yorker Fiction Issue from Dec 23 & 30, 1996. The other short story anthology in my current rotation is The Year's Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy: Second Annual Volume from 1957, edited by Judith Merrill.

Editado: Nov 7, 2014, 3:26 pm

I finished up the New Yorker Magazine 1996 Fiction Issue. Some highlights of the issue are stories by Russo, DeLillo and Munro and a great essay about The New Fowler's English Usage by John Updike. I've offered more in-depth reactions on my 50 Book Challenge thread.

Nov 24, 2014, 4:25 pm

About halfway through Irwin Shaw Short Stories: Five Decades. Really enjoying his style.

Nov 25, 2014, 2:06 pm

Currently tackling The Collected Stories of Benedict Kiely and it has some fine stories so far. It combines four of his story collections and a novella.

Dic 4, 2014, 4:55 pm

Kind of how it worked out with Early Reviewers, reading both The Business of Naming Things (awesome so far) and The Alphabet of Birds (also awesome)! Great stretch for some wonderful short stories.

Dic 7, 2014, 8:50 am

I am in the middle of Leaving the Sea. Not sure what I think yet.

Dic 7, 2014, 2:19 pm

I finished The Year's Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy: Second Annual Volume, edited by Judith Merril. Published in 1957, this is a very fun collection of short stories in a cool "pulp fiction" edition. There is actually quite a lot of just plain good writing here, and many of these stories would stand up even for readers who are not fans of the science fiction genre. Some are funny, some are though-provoking. Plus, Merril's comments before each of the stories are often quite amusing, as well. Names science fiction fans will recognize in this collection include C. M. Kornbluth, Algis Budrys, Damon Knight, Isaac Asimov, J. G. Ballard, Theodore Sturgeon and Garson Kanin. It's always interesting to go back to the 50s to revisit different writers' visions of "the future."

Dic 7, 2014, 2:59 pm

Finished Leaving the Sea. The stories at the beginning were more to my liking.

Dic 16, 2014, 11:03 pm

Not reading yet but was excited to score at St. Vincent dePaul today,

Best American Short Stories 2004
Best American Short Stories 2005
New Sudden Fiction

All for under $5!

Editado: Dic 28, 2014, 3:14 pm

I've added Short Story International Volume 3, Number 15, edited by Sylvia Tankel, to the stack of collections that I'm going through gradually. Published in 1979, this is the fifteenth edition of a monthly periodical, each of which contained 12 or 13 stories from writers in almost as many countries.

Ene 13, 2015, 12:44 am

Finished Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge. Really enjoyed it. Orner is a gifted writer.
Started today, The Middle Aged-Man and the Sea, by Christopher Meeks. Enjoying it so far and oddly one of the stories mentions the Sagamore Bridge!

Ene 23, 2015, 7:54 pm

Ene 24, 2015, 11:46 am

I just started reading Shanks On Crime, by Robert Lopresti, a collection of mystery short stories. I have enjoyed several Shanks stories in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and was happy to discover I could read the entire series.

Feb 21, 2015, 1:53 pm

Reading and enjoying Charlie Baxter's new collection, There's Something I Want You to Do.

Feb 22, 2015, 8:26 am

133 - Oh, I love Charles Baxter! Thank you for the heads up that he has some new stories. I am reading a novel, but interspersing it with Eudora Welty Thirteen Stories ... despite being very popular, was not too familiar with her stories. I'm enjoying them. They are a little odd (misfits abound), but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Will report in after I finish.

Mar 1, 2015, 8:33 am

Now reading There's Something I Want You To Do as recommended here :) So far, it is great.

Mar 1, 2015, 10:34 am

Glad to hear you are enjoying the Baxter. Adding the Welty to my wish list.

Mar 3, 2015, 7:17 am

I am not reading this, but I just saw this am that Thomas McGuane has a new collection of short stories out today. His first in nine years. Hope to read it soon!

Mar 3, 2015, 7:34 pm

Just started In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway.

Mar 4, 2015, 12:03 pm

Thanks for the note on the McGuane, alphaorder! And yes, I loved There's Something I Want You To Do ... not all the stories were completely awesome, but most were!

I am still working on Eudora Welty Thirteen Stories, but am not really as wowed by her work as I thought I would be. It had to be really weird and different for the time(s), but today stories about the odder factions of humanity are the norm. I also have a bit of trouble with the racism, but again, try to remember the time and place (Mississippi - 1930s-70s). As I age, I realize what is, is, but I am more selective on whether I even choose to read it.

Mar 7, 2015, 9:02 pm

A good short story haul from St. Vinnie's today;

The Best American Short Stories 1999
The Pushcart Prize XIX; 1994/1995
Granta; Love Stories
Writers Harvest 3
The O. Henry Awards; Best of 1998

Adding these to my already too large TBR stack!

Mar 24, 2015, 11:23 am

I just finished The Dead Fish Museum by Charles D'Ambrosio and overall, the fellow is a strong, interesting writer (sort of Carver-esque, but unique too). I just don't care for most of his characters (unlikeable folks). The big exception was the story "Drummond and Son" wherein a recently-single 40-some father grapples with the day-to-day care of his adult mentally-disabled son. Beautiful story and well worth the price of admission. I cannot stop thinking about it.

Editado: Mar 28, 2015, 10:45 am

I just started Best American Short Stories 2004 this weekend..... having decided to make 2015 the year for reading short stories (though I might have to stray to the odd novel from time to time).

In the meantime, though, I found one of Lorrie Moore's definitions in the introduction remarkable (and I'm paraphrasing a bit here): "A short story is the writer's intimate response to the world while a novel is the writer's creation of a world." Not sure I agree entirely but, in general terms, it's an interesting way of looking at this often-debated distinction.

Mar 31, 2015, 12:16 pm

Jenny ~ Great goal for 2015! I kind of alternate: short story collection (or literary journal), novel, non fiction book, repeat. So I get my healthy does of short stories throughout the year!

That is a great quote. My fiction-writing professor (of short stories) always told us: "Why are you choosing THIS moment/event to write about?" It's funny how that could clarify vision ... and to that end, I really do think that a writer's "intimate response" to a moment in time, that is very true. Having never completed/written a novel, not sure I can comment on that!

In short-story land, I am reading Granta India 130 and wow, so far very, very good.

Editado: Mar 31, 2015, 11:27 pm

Carolyn: I might have to steal your approach. I've tended to do 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction book at any given point in time to allow for a bit of variation but feel the need to change things up now and then.

When I went to the Jaipur Literary Festival in January this year, the only book I bought there was Granta India 130. It's the second such collection edited by Ian Jack and, during a panel discussion with a couple of the authors included in this new one, he described, at length, how writing in India has evolved in the time between the 2 editions. I, too, enjoyed the book (which I completed on my journey home) and recommend it highly.

Back to this particular collection of short stories, The Best American Short Stories 2004: I'm about halfway through and I must say that it is rather a mixed bag. It may have something to do with Lorrie Moore's own writing preferences/style. I've found her to be more a writer's writer and some of the stories here are less the story of a significant moment/event and more of a character sketch. And, while I don't have anything against the latter whatsoever, it can get a bit much when it goes on for 25+ pages. Still, from a craft perspective, this is a very polished set of stories. So, there's that.

Abr 2, 2015, 12:26 pm

Oh, Jenny, that sounds amazing (The Jaipur Literary Festival). Have you read the first Granta India issue? It was funny because I was going to order it, then bumped into this one at Barnes & Noble. I did not even realize a new one was out. That panel discussion had to have been awesome. I really love to sink into a good Indian novel, but these shorter pieces are really great. That one "Drone" though, egads, that was scary!

Abr 2, 2015, 10:37 pm

Carolyn, 'Drone' was good, yes. It made me look out for more of Kunzru's work.

I haven't read the first Granta India issue but it's on my list to get. Ian Jack said that there had been a lot of criticism about the works selected there and he tried to address some of it with this second edition. He said that the two editions are very different for that reason. Plus, more non-fiction in this second one, of course.

Jul 19, 2015, 12:46 am

Started Best American Short Stories 2013. Also, just today scored multiple editions of Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. 23 different books, $20! WooHoo!

Jul 19, 2015, 1:29 pm

I finished Murderers' Row edited by Otto Penzler. This is a fun short story collection of murder mysteries that all have a baseball theme. There are some big names, here, including Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard, John Lescoart and Robert B. Parker. No big surprise that the Leonard and Parker stories were among the most enjoyable. This book came from the shelves of my bookstore.

Jul 19, 2015, 8:33 pm

I'm reading Family Furnishings by Alice Munro. I bought this book at Barnes & Noble the day it came out because Ms. Munro is one of my favorite authors, but so far haven't been able to settle down and finish the book. I'm picking up the book again this evening with new resolve.

Jul 21, 2015, 6:59 pm

I'm having trouble with my eyes so I have temporarily set aside my book (again). I'm listening to Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. I'm about halfway through, and the stories are extraordinary.

Ago 2, 2015, 1:59 pm

Really enjoyed Ron Rash's collection Burning Bright. My review is here.

Ago 2, 2015, 5:30 pm

Read and loved In The Country: Stories.

Sep 5, 2015, 1:35 pm

I've just started Tevye's Daughters, a series of inter-related short stories, by Sholom Aleichem.

Sep 5, 2015, 2:24 pm

>153 rocketjk: I love his stories. A great writer.

Sep 11, 2015, 7:31 am

Just started The State We're In. Enjoyed the first story - can't wait to read more this weekend.

Sep 12, 2015, 4:10 am

Coming to the end of The Best American Mystery Stories 2003. I have lots of the BASS collections but this is the first of the 'mystery stories' ones I have read. The selector is Michael Connelly and the selection is really good - a lot of variety in the styles, and overall quality high.

Sep 22, 2015, 1:07 pm

Hey, kids! Given the questions/conversation about my bookstore from a few months back, I thought y'all might be interested in the write-up we got on the blog of a traveling bookstore lover from Princeton (complete with photos!). Here it is:

Please let me know if this is an inappropriate posting for this thread, self-promotion-wise.

Also, I finished Tevye's Daughers, a collection of Sholom Aleichem's astounding short stories. Highly recommended to put it mildly.

Oct 3, 2015, 4:30 pm

I'm set to start PRAYING DRUNK this evening. Hoping for wonderful things.

Oct 8, 2015, 8:11 am

I am reading Best American Short Stories 2015 and so far it is great (will have to be to match 2014, which was one of the best in the series, I thought)!

Nov 2, 2015, 1:40 pm

I'm enjoying Kij Johnson's collection AT THE MOUTH OF THE RIVER OF BEES a lot. Plus the cover is gorgeous, as is usual with Small Beer Press editions.

Nov 28, 2015, 2:59 pm

I finished Short Story International: Volume 3, Number 15 edited by Sylvia Tankel. I don't know how long this monthly periodical of short stories from around the world was published. I have a bunch of them in my used bookstore, though. At any rate, this edition is from August, 1979. I found an article online from April 1979 that says the periodical was three years old at that point, but how long it lasted, I can't tell. Anyway, this edition was a lot of fun. It included stories by Leslie Norris, Ita Daly, Alan Sillitoe, Robert Granat and Tom Wolfe among its 16 stories. There were authors unknown to me from Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Spain and Thailand.

I've just started reading the periodical Manhunt Detective Story Monthly, January, 1953 - Volume 1, Number 1. It starts with the first installment of the novella, "Everybody's Watching Me," by Mickey Spillane. Not wanting to read just the opening installment of this work, I skipped it to begin my reading with the story, "Die Hard," by Evan Hunter. Hunter later became better known as Ed McBain. Earlier this year, I read a full-length novel by Hunter (not McBain) called Criminal Conversation which I didn't like all that much. I liked this story much better, for whatever that's worth. Anyway, these old dime store periodicals are fun, and this one's even older than I am. It also includes a story by Richard S. Prather. I found it stuck in with some other such periodicals on my short story collection shelves, but where it came from or how long I've own it, who knows? I entered it only LT in 2008, when I was first posting my library here, so I've had it at least that long. Also, I did some research online and found an anthology of previously serialized stories republished in their entirety that included the Spillane piece and ordered it. Ha! I'm sure y'all found that recitation quite fascinating!

Dic 29, 2015, 8:05 am

I just started Mothers, Tell Your Daughters. Tough stuff, but good so far.

Looking at my 2015 books, here are the collections of stories I read:
Honeydew - Fantastic
There's Something I Want You to Do - Vintage Baxter
In the Country: Stories - Loved
The State We're In - Didn't care for it so much

Nov 25, 2016, 12:44 pm

This thread has somehow died, thought I'd revive it. I am into Bears Discover Fire. Enjoying it!

Editado: Nov 26, 2017, 2:06 pm

I finished up an extremely enjoyable anthology, The Arbor House Treasury of Great Western Stories edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin Harry Greenberg, the stories in which traversed the western U.S. from Gold Rush days though the early 1900s.

Other collections in my current reading rotation include New Stories for Men, published in 1943 and edited by Charles Grayson and Discovery No. 3 from 1954, a periodical-type paperback of stories, poems and essays edited by Vance Bourjally.

Nov 26, 2017, 2:43 pm

The thread died again, Jerry, so thanks for reviving it! I'm finishing a review of Dead Americans and Other Stories by Aussie sf/f author Ben Peek. It's part of my blog's #Booksgiving list of recommendations for gifts to bookish friends.

Dic 6, 2017, 4:34 pm

I'm currently reading Annie Proulx's Close Range: Wyoming Stories. Quite good so far - very evocative of Wyoming and the west in general.

Editado: Jun 21, 2019, 3:54 pm

I finished New Stories for Men, edited by Charles Grayson. Yeah, I know. That title, right? This collection was published in 1941, so slack can be cut or not. At any rate, this is a fun collection of mostly good-to-excellent short stories, designed, obviously, to be enjoyed by us guys, at least as an editor in 1941 would have seen it. Naturally, all the writers are men. OK, that aside, I had fun reading these stories. It's a solid collection of short works written from around 1915 through 1940, so a window into that era. Interestingly for me, there is a story by Irvin S. Cobb, who is the only screenwriter mentioned by name in the satiric memoir about Hollywood, For the Sake of Shadows by Max Miller, which I read a few weeks back. Other writers I'd heard of that are represented here are Varids Fisher, Paul Gallico, John Huston, MacKinlay Kantor, Sinclair Lewis, John O'Hara, Budd Schulberg, Irwin Shaw, John Steinbeck and James Thurber. Other names I had to look up, often to find interesting, if obscure, back stories. I could have done without the ode to bulldog fighting ("White Monarch and the Gas House Pup" by R.G. Kirk, which, it turns out, was also the title story to a collection by this author), and some of the stories were below par, but all in all, as I've said, this set was a fun one. For all readers!

Other short story collections I'm currently in the midst of are Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks and Creek Walk and Other Stories by Molly Giles.

Jun 21, 2019, 4:33 pm

Good gracious, I'd forgotten about this group! And I'm the admin. *tsk*

Editado: Jun 21, 2019, 5:46 pm

>168 richardderus: All I do is post short story collections when I finish 'em. It used to be a vibrant thread back in the before time. I don't know where everybody went!

Jun 23, 2019, 7:14 pm

You made me just buy the ebook.

Editado: Jun 23, 2019, 7:25 pm

Revolution of reading took everyone out of their sits, people are too busy with their lifestyles nowadays some doesn't have time to read. I am done reading The Forbidden Stranger, before I tried to read but couldn't finish it because of my newborn.

Jun 23, 2019, 7:48 pm

Ok, since someone revived this thread, I will share that I am reading and appreciating That Time I Loved You.

Ago 23, 2019, 5:56 pm

And I just finished Four Past Midnight, four novellas by Stephen King. Enjoyed them. Now to go update my thread here.

I just started What Might Have Been Volumes 3 & 4: Alternate Wars, Alternate Americas. The first two stories are very good and very different - one about Anne Boleyn and one about the US in WWII, in an imagined Japanese secret attack on communications in the Aleutian Islands.

Ago 23, 2019, 6:24 pm

I've finished and was very pleased to have read Black Light: Stories, and am well-launched into Crudo by Olivia Laing, 2019 winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction.

Sep 22, 2019, 1:16 am

After Rain by William Trevor is the current read for me.

Sep 22, 2019, 10:10 am

>175 jldarden: All of William Trevor's short fiction is delightful. I don't think I've read the collection, but the story "After Rain" caught me somewhere, and I added this quote to my quote database:
The Annunciation in the church of Santa Fabiola is by an unknown artist, perhaps of the school of Filippo Lippi, no one is certain. The angel kneels, grey wings protruding, his lily half hidden by the pillar. The floor is marble, white and green and ochre. The virgin looks alarmed, right hand arresting her visitor’s advance. Beyond - background to the encounter - there are gracious arches, a balustrade and then the sky and hills. There is a soundlessness about the picture, the silence of a mystery: no words are spoken in this captured moment, what’s said between the two has been said already.

Currently reading the amazing Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

Sep 22, 2019, 12:00 pm

I am nearing the end of Edwidge Danticat's Everything Inside. Highly recommend.

Sep 22, 2019, 12:12 pm

>177 alphaorder: LARB's review made me glad that it's waiting on my pile of TBRs! Thanks for reinforcing.

Sep 23, 2019, 5:50 pm

Finished my review of Friday Black: Stories...the best are excellent, the least aren't. But on balance, I'm a very, very satisfied customer.

Oct 3, 2019, 2:05 pm

I finished Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks. Yes, that Tom Hanks. I bought this volume in an airport bookstore mainly out of curiosity. I would say that were Hanks not a famous personality, I doubt he would have been able to get this collection published. Not that the stories are terrible. They aren't. Most of them are mediocre, somewhat below real professional quality, though perhaps three or four of them I would call good short stories. All of the stories either include or at least mention type writers, which is where the collection's title comes from. Anyway, in general I would say that unless you are a particular fan of Hanks as an actor and personality (I think he's fine in both departments, although a bit of a schlockmeister at times), there's no point in seeking out this book. There are many better short story collections/anthologies out there to read. I gave the book 3 stars as sort of an E for Effort rating.

I've now added A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin to my reading rotation. Based on the first story, I very much looking forward to this collection.

Oct 4, 2019, 12:45 pm

I had to Pearl Rule Olive Kitteridge on p47. Not enough eyeblinks ahead to spend on this mediocre stuff. She's Updike with a uterus.

Editado: Oct 8, 2019, 12:43 am

Ark by Veronica Roth was a good 4-star intro to the Forward series of short SF stories; then Summer Frost by Blake Crouch gave me collywobbles. Almost five stars'-worth of 'em.

Oct 12, 2019, 9:55 am

I reviewed Nora Jemisin's Emergency Skin, third in the Forward series and a pleasure to read despite some tendency to Instruct before entertaining the reader.

Oct 14, 2019, 10:01 am

Currently reading Travelling Light. Some of the stories have appeared elsewhere, but it's good to reread them in a theme context. Classic Tove Jansson for those who admire her writing.

Oct 14, 2019, 4:15 pm

>184 SassyLassy: I'm all about Tove Jansson after The Summer Book proved to me that her adult writing was as beautifully crafted as her Moominbooks. Wishlisted with thanks!

Oct 15, 2019, 1:33 pm

During this past September, my lovely wife took a cross-country drive with her friend Kathy. They passed through Santa Fe, NM, where they went to a book fair, where my wife bought a book called Saturday Matinee directly from the author, Maxine Neely Davenport, who signed it for her! Anyway, this is a collection of interlocking short stories about a family that decided to stay on their Oklahoma farm rather than lighting out for California during the Great Depression. I decided to sit down with this volume last week. Quite a few of these stories are quite well written. Some are a little less so, but those are still enjoyable. The collection's drawback, I would say, is that while many of the stories effectively show various aspects of family dynamics, often from the point of view of a young girl, and describe farming life as well, there is very little of what we'd expect to read of the hardships of rural life in Oklahoma in the Dust Bowl days. However, as I said, the stories, other than that one proviso, are pretty good, taken on their own merit.

Oct 15, 2019, 3:38 pm

You Have Arrived at Your Destination is the fourth of six Forward Collection stories curated by Blake Crouch, and the first one I have disliked. So disappointing!

Oct 19, 2019, 5:36 pm

Oct 25, 2019, 4:00 pm

Wow! This thread is over thirteen years old! How amazing is that.

The last two entries in the Forward Collection, The Last Conversation and Randomize, were both very good indeed.

Editado: Dic 3, 2019, 4:52 pm

I finished Esquire Magazine - 40th Anniversary Celebration - October, 1973 edited by Don Erickson. There is lots here, including essays, articles and short stories from Esquire's first 40 years of publication. But the short story lineup is impressive:

"The Eight-Yard Run" by Irwin Shaw
"The Illustrated Man" by Ray Bradbury
"Dus Dixit" by John Updike
"The Little Mysteries of Pomp and Circumstance" by John O'Hara
"Her Uncle vs. His Father" by Graham Greene
"Albert Pastor at Home" by Dashiell Hammett
"With Other Eyes" by Luigi Pirandello
"Heard Melodies are Sweeter" by Philip Roth
"Little Miss Universe" by William Saroyan
"The Growing Stone" by Albert Camus
"The Case of Dr. Ceccioni" by Georges Simenon
"The Potato Elf" by Vladmir Nabokov
"Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote

Dic 3, 2019, 3:20 pm

Wow, what a line-up of authors.

Dic 3, 2019, 4:52 pm

>191 mstrust: Indeed, and I forgot that "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is in there, too.

Ene 3, 2020, 12:57 pm

Ene 12, 2020, 4:33 pm

The Story Prize nominees are announced at last! I've read EVERYTHING INSIDE and was quite impressed by it, and I own GRAND UNION as well as SABRINA & CORINA, so could have all three read before the award in February! First time that's ever happened.

How's your story-collection TBR? Fatter now, I hope.

Ene 16, 2020, 10:33 pm

Ene 22, 2020, 4:22 pm

I read the Virago Book of Fairy Tales which was an interesting collection of fairy tales from around the world.

Feb 4, 2020, 3:44 pm

I finished Creek Walk and Other Stories by Molly Giles. This relatively slim volume contains 14 acutely drawn stories about women, almost all of whom are marginalized and cut adrift by cultural expectations. Divorced, widowed or in unhappy marriages, with and without lovers, but mostly with kids to care for, these women fight to attain the feeling that their lives are relevant to those around them, or even to themselves. Much of what I found powerful in these stories was transmitted through Giles' ease with details, and the ways in which she always pulls back before her characters can descend in maudlin excess or self-pity.

One or two of the stories have a touch of magical realism to them, as well. This collection was published in 1996, and I wondered if they would turn out to be timepieces in some ways. But I didn't get the feeling that the issues these stories deal with, or the way Giles presents them, were dated at all.

One point of full disclosure. Molly Giles was on the faculty of San Francisco State University when I was working on my MA Degree in Creative Writing there. I never took a seminar with her, but she did substitute for one of my seminars when the teacher had to step away for a few weeks for health issues. Everybody in the program liked her, and she liked the one story of mine she had to read for that seminar.

Feb 29, 2020, 1:15 pm

Edwidge Danticat won the Story Prize for a second time. Everything Inside was good enough to get her a second $20,000 bank-fattener...note she got the same amount in 2005 for The Dew Breaker, so effectively she won a $26,000 prize then...and an historic second award.

Feb 29, 2020, 8:29 pm

>180 rocketjk: I've just finished A Manual For Cleaning Women. Phenomenal (and not at all what I was expecting). For anyone who likes it I would also recommend Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson (I'm amazed this hasn't been mentioned on this thread already).

Mar 1, 2020, 12:11 pm

>199 wandering_star: Yes, I'm about a fifth of the way through A Manual for Cleaning Women and those stories are quite amazing. The title story all on its own is worth the price of admission. I of course have heard of the Johnson but haven't read any of his work, yet.

Abr 5, 2020, 1:37 pm

I've just finished Tierra Del Fuego a set of nine exquisite short stories by revered Chilean author Francisco Coloane. My review is on the book's work page. Highly recommended.

Jun 10, 2020, 1:49 pm

I finished the short story collection Living in the Weather of the World by Richard Bausch. I would call this collection good but not great. Bausch is certainly a good writer, as his long list of publications and critical kudos attest, but I found that too often in these stories "concepts" and "emotions" were being written about. Passion! Old age and regret! The Kennedy assassination (one of the stories I liked best, actually). Not that these aren't topics worthy of writing about, of course, but only that the telling is just a bit too unsubtle. The very best story is the final one, in which two very old men, a German and an American who had a fateful meeting during World War 2, prepare to have a very public reunion in front of family members and television cameras. I could certainly see other readers enjoying these stories better than I did. Part of the problem may be that I'm also in the midst of luminous short story collections, which I will report on as I finish them, by Isaac Singer, Lucia Berlin, Chilean author Francisco Coloane and Haitian-American Marie-Hélène Laforest.

Jul 11, 2020, 4:21 pm

I just tried to find the release date for this fall’s edition of the o.henry prize stories and I couldn’t find anything. The BASS are coming out in November and they’re all listed online.

Jul 20, 2020, 4:24 pm

I finished The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Stories of Horror by H. P. Lovecraft. My first Lovecraft, it was an eclectic collection and liked 6/7 stories.

Sep 1, 2020, 12:53 am

Oct 4, 2020, 3:51 pm

I finished Cape Horn and Other Stories From the End of the World by Francisco Coloane. Earlier this year I read another collection of stories by Chilean writer Francisco Coloane, Tierra del Fuego. I loved them so much that I immediately plunged into this collection. As it happens, quite a few of the stories are offered in both collections. No matter, I happily reread those.

I had never heard of Coloane until my wife and I traveled in Argentina and southern Chile this past November. We spent almost a week on the large Chilean island of Chiloe, and happened to visit the town of Quemchi, where Coloane was born, and where there is a statue of him in the town square. In fact, the square is basically dedicated to him. My curiosity piqued, upon returning home I immediately went online and ordered both these collections of his stories in translation. I will simply repost my review of Tierra del Fuego, since the stories mentioned are in both volumes:

This is a collection of nine exquisite stories by revered Chilean author Francisco Coloane. Coloane spins tales in spare, expressive prose about life in the lonely pampas, mountains and rugged islands and coastlines of Chile's southernmost country. For the most part, the characters are men, in small groups or in pairs, interacting for good or ill with the hazzards of land and sea and with their own frailties, both spiritual and physical, and, of course, with each other. In one of my favorite stories in the collection, "The Empty Bottle," two men, unknown to each other, meet at random as they ride their horses across the pampas. Their journeys are taking them in the same direction, so they ride along together for a while, lost in their own thoughts. The younger of the two thinks of his fiance, waiting in a far off town, and his desire to return to her. The older thinks of a murder he has committed years back in almost identical circumstances.

One of the blurbs on the book's cover refers to Coloane as "the Jack London of our times." I suppose in terms of subject matter, this might be apt. Stylistically to me it seems less so, though admittedly it's been a long time since I read much London. This is going to be a fairly obscure reference, but Coloane's writing brought to mind for me that of Finnish author Väinö Linna's "Under the North Star" trilogy. Another of my favorites, here, "How the Chilote Otey Died," about a group of survivors of a failed uprising on the run from pursuers intent on deadly retribution, particularly reminded me of Linna.

Here is Pablo Neruda's quote as offered on the back cover of the Europa Edition collection:

"Long arms, arms like rivers, are necessary to fully embrace Francisco Coloane. Or perhaps it's necessary to be a squall of wind, gusting over him beard and all. Otherwise, take a seat across the table from him and analyze the question, study him deeply; you will surely end by drinking a bottle of wine with Francisco and happily postponing the matter to some later date."

Cape Horn was originally published in 1990 as translated by David A. Petreman. Tierra del Fuego is a 2008 Europa Editions volume, translated by Howard Curtis. I found the Curtis translation a bit more flowing, and on that basis only I recommend Tierra del Fuego over Cape Horn.

Oct 4, 2020, 6:41 pm

I've started a real review, not a shorty, of Stephen Graham Jones's fifteen-story collection After the People Lights Have Gone Off. It won the This Is Horror Best Collection Award in 2015. I really liked it, and am glad to re-read it now.

That isn't a common sentence for me to type.

Nov 15, 2020, 4:29 pm

I finished Foreign Shores by Marie-Hélène Laforest, who is Haitian-American. This is a slim collection of wonderful, haunting short stories deal with life in Haiti, the perils, joys and regrets of those who immigrated to America, and the lives of those who had either stayed behind or returned to Haiti. Many, though not all, of the stories deal with poverty and longing. The tales that take place in the U.S. usually add strong themes of displacement. Parents in the U.S. try desperately to save enough money to bring their children out of Haiti, or grown children to bring their elderly parents. Meanwhile, back in Haiti, life becomes more dangerous, political murders more frequent, in the stories dealing with the DuValier regime. The stories are grouped into four sections: Island Life, Some Drifted, Many Stayed, A Few Returned.

Says George Lamming in his Foreward to the collection, the stories speak of "the more somber theme of involuntary migration and slave labor on arrival at the metropolitan ports that promise rescue from the grim legacy of the Duvalier regimes. The name, Duvalier, defines an epidemic which extends its blight on the expectations of those who have never surredndered to despair."

Here, from the story "Language of the Gods" (from Part II: Some Drifted) is a longish excerpt to give an idea of Laforest's use of language and imagery to get at the dislocation many of her characters feel. Marinette's husband Charles has just died of a heart attack. She walks through their New York City apartment afterward, waiting for her two children, May and Roger, to return home from grocery shopping:

She walked to Roger's room. A picture of his football team hung up alongside the triangular banners that read Chess Club, Book Club, Softball Club. Charles insisted that they place a desk in the room for the large dictionary paid in installments. She needed both hands to lift it when she dusted. A room in black and white Roger had asked for. Too funereal for her. But what did her children know about funerals and mourning until two days ago? About wearing black for a year, then white and black or gray for another six months? Mourning then half-mourning, that's what they said back home. She ran a hand down the front of her black dress to smooth out a crease that was not there. Death in a family, black dresses ready overnight. A sewing machine stitching black cambric white cotton . . . long ago . . . for a ceremony to the wrong gods, those that come from Guinea, the mecreants their followers, white head ties, white dresses in swirls around a pole, spinning, whirling. Goatskin drums, the deep sound of hollow bamboos resounding in the countryside, beating in her head now. In the dark night flashes of red kerchiefs in the shadows of vast trees. Invoke the spirits. The Iwa comes. White forms thrash to the ground. The other gods, which her family renounced.

Mariette brought her hands to her temples. That disorder in her head, those strands of memory, they had come so unexpectedly, so wrongly. "Mourning," she said aloud to hear her voice, "then half-mourning," she added for the sound of her voice to stop that reeling out of a skein in the mind, to wind up all those threads somehow, to pin them somewhere.

I will think of this collection often, and may even read it again soon. It seems that Laforest has spent much more of her career in research and academia than in fiction writing, which is sad for us. I couldn't find reference to any other fiction other than these stories, in fact.

Book notes: Foreign Shores was published in Quebec in 2002. I bought the collection in a wonderful bookstore in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami during a trip there a couple of years back. At this moment I am the only LT member with the book listed in his/her library.

Dic 1, 2020, 12:13 pm

I finished The Death of Methuselah by Isaac Singer. This short story collection was published in 1988, when Singer was 75. It is his final published collection, though he went on to publish four more novels thereafter. Even though Singer lived in the U.S. for decades, he continued to write only in Yiddish. My love for these stories about older Jewish characters, mostly men, runs deep. A lot of the stories remind me either of my father or of my father's gin rummy cronies.

Singer wrote about passion, hope, frustration and folly, about the strange course that life could take, with clear, usually straightforward language, gentle humor and a great affection for humanity and for the human condition. Though much of Singer's earlier writing concerns both city and shtetl life in pre-World War II Poland (where Singer was born and lived until moving to the U.S. in 1935) and often features strong elements of Jewish mysticism, only two or three stories in this collection fit those categories. Mostly here we have older men in the U.S. and sometimes Europe or Israel, looking back on their lives and/or musing about human nature. Many of the tales intersperse storytelling with philosphising either by the narrator or another character. Often, there is no closure or culmination of plot in the standard sense: just, instead, a rambling tale of a life, or of one or two lives intersecting, which, when you turn the last page, simply stops short.

A couple of examples of Singer's humor and of his observational style: In one story a retired man, bored with his life of inactivity, meets a stranger in a cafeteria who soon is trying to entice him to buy a store and start a new business. Tempted, but worried that the exertion will be too much for him, the man asks, "Who should I start a new business for, my wife's next husband?"

But a bit more deeply, here are some passages from the beginning of the story, "House Friends:"

We were sitting in the Cafe Piccadilly, Max Stein and I, and our talk turned to married women with lovers tolerated by their husbands. "House friends" we used to call such men in the Yiddish Writers' Club. Yes, women--what else could we have talked about? Neither of us was interested in politics or business. . . . Max Stein, a frustrated painter, tried to make a drawing of me on a sketch pad, but without success. He said to me "One cannot draw you. Your face changes every second. One moment you look young, another moment old. You have peculiar tics. Even your nose changes from minute to minute. . . . Love is supposed to be an instinct, but what is instinct? Instinct is not blind, or what they call unconscious. The instinct knows what it wants and plans and calculates perfectly. It is often shrewd and prescient. Schopenhauer dwells constantly on the subject of blind will. But will is far from blind--the very opposite. The intellect is blind. Give me a cigarette."

Dic 8, 2020, 4:13 pm

I finished Great Irish Tales of Horror: A Treasury of Fear edited by Peter Haining

Although some of the stories in this anthology were quite good, all in all I'd call this a so-so collection. For one thing, Haining's definition of a "tale of horror" differs from mine. I was expecting a collection of stories dealing with ghosts and other paranormal matters, but many of the stories here do not fit that description at all. The opening entry, "The Morgan Score" by Jack Higgins, is a crime/noir story. The final tale, "Last Rites" by Neil Jordan, harrowing and excellent though it is, is a story of the psychology of a working class suicide. A few of the stories are humorous, the "fear" experienced only by characters portrayed as foolish and/or gullible, but not by the reader.

There were, to be sure, several excellent ghostly tales. Familiar names among the author list include Elizabeth Bowen, Sax Rohmer, J.M. Synge, George Bernard Shaw, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Even Bram Stoker shows up.

At any rate, not a terrible collection by any means, but I'm sure Irish horror stories are better represented elsewhere.

Ene 21, 2021, 1:44 pm

I recently finished Western Adventures Magazine - October, 1943. This was a fun collection of western stories, ranging all the way in length from "novels" (really novellas), longish short stories and a couple of very short tales. Of the authors represented, I'd heard of only two of them from my used bookstore-owning days (I had a pretty large Westerns section): Norman A. Fox and Eli Colter. Most of the stories were engaging enough. There is a distinct pattern to them. Someone, usually a stranger in these here parts, has been wrongly accused of a crime and has to figure out a way to clear himself. Often in doing so, our hero gets the girl into the bargain. One of the most entertaining of the entries, the "novel" by Norman A. Fox called "Land Beyond the Law," is described thusly in its teaser on the table of contents: "Matt Larkey discovered too late that his bargain with the law had sent him into Hell's Vest Pocket with his gun fangs pulled."

Feb 26, 2021, 4:08 pm

I finished A Manuel for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. This is a wonderful collection of stories, full of writing that manages to be heartbreaking and life affirming at the same time. The tales are loosely interconnected and reflective of Berlin's own life. Teaching, single parenthood, childhood time spent in South America, dealing with the grim lifestyle of the alcoholic and the relative peace of recovery, odd jobs, teaching, lovers and marriages, loneliness, spending time in Mexico City with her sister who is dying of cancer . . . the stories in this collection circle back around to these themes, inspecting them from a variety of perspectives. The observations are acute and Berlin's sentence-and paragraph-level writing often made me stop and reread. The title story is a tour de force, the building of a life on the page, minute detail by detail. I gave this collection a very rare (for me, anyway) five stars.

Mar 6, 2021, 9:49 pm

I just started That Old Country Music by Irish writer Kevin Barry

Editado: Jul 31, 2021, 5:11 pm

I finished Sorry for Your Trouble by Richard Ford. This is a recent (2020) collection of longish short stories by Ford, best known, perhaps, as the author of The Sportswriter (and three other novels about that book's protagonist, Frank Bascombe). These stories are mostly about relatively successful people who are at or post middle age. In one way or another, the characters here are all navigating the dimming of expectations that that time of life can engender. Marriages are either over or have become everyday and humdrum. Ford, as I think is usual for him, spends a lot of time describing his characters' histories and states of mind. This might all sound tedious, and in some of the stories (the book's final tale, "Second Language," in particular) it is. But in the book's better entries, Ford still displays an ability to put his characters into relatable situations, and give them enough self-awareness of their own foibles to create sympathy in the reader. He also generally avoids marching the storylines to predictable endings. I guess Ford's writing style is not necessarily for everyone. I found most of these tales enjoyable and gave the whole schmear 3 1/2 stars.

Ago 1, 2021, 5:29 pm

I also finished Adventures of Captain David Grief by Jack London. Captain David Grief is a South Seas adventurer, a self-made millionaire, tycoon merchant during the days of the sailing ships, with engines just beginning to come on the scene. I kept thinking of Grief as sort of a South Seas Bruce Wayne. At any rate, London, of course, was a great writer of adventure stories. In these seven tales, Grief is always the hero, almost always the smartest one on the ship or in the village. There's not much going on below the surface in these stories. Sometimes the villains and/or fools are other Europeans, sometimes they're the island inhabitants. This collection was originally published in 1911 under the title "A Son of the Sun." The assumptions about European cultural superiority one would expect from fiction of that time are here, but, are less overt than I was fearing they would be when I took this slim volume down off my pulp paperback shelves. I did have fun reading these.

Book note: My copy is a beautiful second printing Paperback Library edition from 1957.

Jun 14, 2022, 1:30 pm

I finished the collection Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin. The last four stories of this eight-story collection are among the most powerful short stories I can ever recall reading. Those stories are "Sonny's Blues," "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon," "Come Out the Wilderness," and "Going to Meet the Man." The first three stories of that quartet embed us* into experiences and perspectives of Black Americans in 1950s/60s American as they navigate both implicit and explicit prejudice and try to manage the constant psychological and external pressure these constants create for them. The last of the four puts us inside the head of a Southern sheriff during the days of the Civil Rights movement, as well see how his experience of a lynching in his childhood has helped fuel the rage that explodes behind the blows of his baton as he goes after Blacks lined up to register to vote. The beauty and power of Baldwin's writing, I think, has always been greatly enhanced by the compassion built into his world view, even for that sheriff as he stands in a jail cell over the man he has just beaten bloody. My emphasis of the final four stories isn't meant to imply that the first four tales aren't excellent. They focus on childhood, and are all quite good in many ways, especially as they describe the only partially controlled rage with which many of the adult male characters seethe. They just weren't quite as powerful for me. I don't think it's a stretch, or at all original, to say that Baldwin was one of the very greatest American writers of the 20th century.

Dic 28, 2022, 1:00 pm

Wow, been a few months since a post here. Since it's late in the year, just though I'd share my idea for the coming year is 'the year of the short story'. I have many collections on the TBR pile. Probably start with single author collections and move on to anthologies. Probably throw in a novel or two to break the pace. Wish me luck. Thanks

Dic 28, 2022, 1:36 pm

>217 jldarden: Good luck! I've got shelves full of anthologies (I used to more or less collect them, buying them more or less every time I saw them in a used bookstore or thrift store) and I also have plenty of single author collections, as well. I tend to read them gradually, though, rather than straight through. You can see what I'm talking about on my Club Read thread:

I'm in the midst of a few right how.
Single author collections:
Spring Sowing by Liam O'Flaherty
Rough Translations by Molly Giles

The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories edited by Ray Bradbury
The World's Greatest Romances (Black's Reader Services) edited by Walter J. Black
The Best American Short Stories 1957 edited by Martha Foley

I'm close to the end of several of those, and I'll probably be adding a few more to the rotation during 2023.

I'll look forward to seeing which ones you choose from your TBR pile and how well you enjoy them. Cheers!

Dic 30, 2022, 8:09 pm

I finished Rough Translations by Molly Giles. This is Giles' first short story collection, originally published in 1985. The stories are all well written, though overall the collection is not as satisfying as a later collection of her I read some time ago, Creek Walk and Other Stories. Well, that's what I get for reading the later collection first. The stories in Rough Translations all have female protagonists. For the most part, they are in, or relatively recently out of, unhappy marriages. Their husbands, care more about their jobs than their marriages, spend their weekend afternoons watching football to the exclusion of all else, undervalue them, condescend to and/or despise their wives and so forth. The women lack in confidence, though they'd once expected much more of themselves. In other words, despite the stories' individual effectiveness, resonating as they do with real life, there is a sameness to them that drains the collection as a whole of effectiveness. There are two or three that rise above these factors, and the final story, the title story, in fact, is a tour de force.

Perhaps we can see these tales as stylistic period pieces of mid-80s short fiction. At any rate, I found the stories in Creek Walk to be much more diverse and imaginative. I should say that Giles was an instructor at San Francisco State University when I was a grad student in the Creative Writing Department, there. I never had a seminar with her there, but she did sit in as instructor when one of my teachers had to take sick leave. She was an extremely popular and effective teacher, by all accounts.

Dic 30, 2022, 8:19 pm

>217 jldarden: Very best of luck! The story realm is sadly neglected here...I'm planning a bit more collection and anthology reviewing in 2023.

Ene 16, 2023, 3:20 pm

Ene 16, 2023, 7:11 pm

I don't read short stories often, but am into Laura Lippman's latest Seasonal Work. Good so far and only some feature characters from her Tess Monaghan novels.

Ene 18, 2023, 12:40 pm

I recently finished The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories edited by Ray Bradbury. This is a fun old paperback, published in 1956. As Bradbury makes clear in his introduction, he has put together a collection of stories that are much more appropriately thought of as fantasy rather than science fiction. It's an entertaining set of stories, although somewhat hit or miss. The famous title story, really a novella, is a tour de force of surrealist storytelling. I'd never read it before and was absolutely entranced throughout. That story sets up a standard, however, that none of the other, shorter, entries never come close to matching, except maybe perhaps Shirley Jackson's well-known "The Summer People." Of the rest, Oliver La Farge's "The Resting Place," with it's elements of Native American legends, and Loren Eiseley's subtle "Buzby's Pertified Woman" were my favorites. Also intriguing was "Earth's Holocaust" by none other than Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Ene 23, 2023, 1:34 pm

I've just finished The Best American Short Stories 1957 edited by Martha Foley. Going by what's found in this collection, the late 1950s was certainly a fertile time for American fiction. This excellent volume includes stories by Nelson Algren, Gina Berriault, Evan S. Connell, Jr., William Eastlake, Flannery O'Connor ("Greenleaf"), and Tillie Olson, to name the more famous authors.

Of the writers who were new to me, the highlights were "Man's Courage" about a Black officer at an Army training camp in the South, by Wyatt Blasingame, "Run, Run Away, Brother," about a man thinking back ruefully about his boyhood treatment of his brother, who has died in World War 2, by John Campbell Smith, "Saturday is a Poor Man's Sport," a story about sadness and loneliness (but still somehow beautiful) in a boarding house, by Henrietta Wiegel, and a quiet lovely story, again about brothers, called "Escape to the City," by Gordon Woodward.

Editado: Feb 22, 2023, 2:19 pm

Recently started Great Esquire Fiction, short stories from the first 50 years of Esquire magazine.

Feb 22, 2023, 6:59 pm

>225 jldarden: Cool. I'll bet that's a terrific collection.

Feb 26, 2023, 6:33 pm

>222 Bookmarque: I loved that too, and I’m not into short stories. You’d probably enjoy Jennifer Eagan’s Antarctica too. Both have an edge to their short stories..

Feb 26, 2023, 6:36 pm

I am re-reading The People on Privilege Hill by Jane Gardham. Absolutely brilliant. I’m reading the audio version. The stories are all read by the author. British humor at its driest.

Mar 25, 2023, 2:14 pm

I finished up my reread of the astonishing collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Abr 1, 2023, 8:42 am

>229 rocketjk: Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful reading experience!

After reading Foster I decided to track down Claire Keegan's earlier works. Read the title story of Antarctica last night and - wow - needed to take a breath before I read the next one. Will read more today.

Abr 10, 2023, 6:52 pm

I posted my latest story on my blog. Despite the name, it's not scary.

Abr 14, 2023, 1:06 pm

I just started Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai. I loved all of the novels she has written, so I have high hopes for this collection.

Abr 24, 2023, 2:59 pm

I finished Spring Sowing, a short story collection was published in 1926 by Irish writer Liam O'Flaherty. The stories are almost all "naturalist" (I don't know if that's a real term) in style. Some of the stories depict small town/rural Irish life of the era, and some actually see the world through the eyes of animals: a cow in a fever over the loss of her calf, a young seagull learning to fly, a rabbit being chased by a young boy and his hunting dog. The human-centric stories show us events like a humorous hoax perpetrated by one villager over his neighbors over a so-called treasure, group of villagers waiting anxiously on shore, hoping against hope that their friends, sons, husbands will return from the days' fishing expedition despite a fierce, unexpected storm that has suddenly blown their way, snipers on opposite roofs--and opposite sides--during the 1916 Easter Uprising. The two best stories are the collection's first and last. The opening title story shows us the first day of married life of a young farming couple. Clearly in love and exulting on their strength and energy for the day's tasks, the day passes wonderfully. And yet we are clued into the lifetime's worth of repetition and labor awaiting the two. The final story, "Going Into Exile," brings us the moving tale of a loving farming family whose two oldest children are about to depart, probably forever, for America. For the most part beautifully and simply written, in this collection O'Flaherty has provided us a vivid, humorous and affection (if occasionally melancholy) picture of life in rural Ireland during the early 20th century.

Abr 27, 2023, 3:02 pm

>230 alphaorder: ha! I know what you mean; quite unexpected and unlike the tone of her other works. For a while there I thought I had the wrong Keegaan.

Editado: Abr 30, 2023, 5:00 pm

Just finished the amazing Music for Wartime: Stories by the amazing Rebecca Makkai.

Rebecca Makkai has yet to fail me. This is a wonderful collection of short stories, all of which were previously published in journals. Thinking back on the title after I finished the book, I can see that music was an important element in most of the stories (a cellist starting a new quartet in her home, an elderly woman who used to sing in the opera, a composer searching for traditional songs in a country ruled by a dictator, a nine-fingered violinist, J.S. Bach resurrected and struggling in the modern world), and although none were actually set in a war, the same elderly woman recounts how she was spared being sent to Auschwitz, we learn that the violinist lost his finger to torture in a Communist prison, and many characters are fighting smaller personal "wars": the AIDS crisis, a partner's infidelity, the loss of a loved one, etc.

If you love short stories, don't miss this beautifully written, multi-toned, and always surprising and moving collection.

Jun 11, 2023, 9:20 am

I'm currently reading 100 Creepy Little Creature Stories. It's a long read, and I'm a little less than halfway through at this point. I've been posting reviews of the individual stories on my Club Read thread and on the Club Read short story thread, if anyone's interested.

Jul 13, 2023, 7:21 pm

New here. Pocket bio: Retired humanities teacher, residing in Tlaxcala, Mexico, with two dogs and six indoor cats. Passionate about literature, history, philosophy, classical music and opera, jazz, cinema, and similar subjects. Nostalgic guy. Politically centrist. BA in American Studies from Yale; MAs in English and Education from Boston University. Born in northern New Jersey. Have lived and worked in San Francisco, Chicago, northern Nevada, northeast Wisconsin, South Korea.

Joseph C. Lincoln (1870-1944) was part of the explosion of “local color” writing at the tail end of the 19th Century, his turf being the otherwise unclaimed Cape Cod. I started in on his Cape Cod Stories (1907) this morning and was immediately struck by the affinity with Neil Munro’s contemporary Scottish stories about Para Handy, which started appearing in 1905. I doubt there was any direct influence, since I’m not sure if Munro’s very Scottish stories appeared in US editions then or ever. But the salty use of dialect, the nautical context, and the conception of the characters are quite similar. “Rollicking” is an appropriate adjective in both cases.

Jul 16, 2023, 10:32 am

What Sarah Orne Jewett did for Maine in The Country of the Pointed Firs, Alice Brown (1857-1948) does for New Hampshire in her stories of “Tiverton” (Hampton Falls). Local color writers like this should appeal greatly to cottagecore enthusiasts of today! I am reading Brown’s Meadow-Grass: Tales of New England Life, and a noteworthy characteristic of the writing is her great precision regarding plant life, every species specified, which should make her work a delight for botanists and gardeners.

Editado: Jul 18, 2023, 6:18 pm

Just started Leila Slimani’s Watch Us Dance and so far very impressed. I love Slimani’s work but am finding this novel especially interesting. I’ve spent time in both Morocco and France (the novel is set in those countries) but knew little of the post independence period of Morocco and of the effects of the French student protests on young Moroccans in the sixties.
Highly recommend.

Jul 27, 2023, 9:38 am

The Canadian Thomas Murtha (1902-1973) never got a collection published during his lifetime, and his best work was buried in old magazines (some quite obscure), one anthology, and in his manuscript papers. His family spearheaded a re-launch of his writing, Short Stories by Thomas Murtha (1980).

It’s a terrific book. These stories of quiet desperation in 1920s/1930s Canada make an unusually unified impression, demonstrating that Murtha truly had a voice of his own. The hitherto unpublished stories are every bit as good as the previously published ones. The introduction (by Murtha’s son) is very informative.

There must be many similar story writers who have not received even this much posthumous justice. Novels at least are almost always BOOKS, with a physical dignity and potential findability. A great short story hidden in an old magazine - that is another level of obscurity.

It is possibly too much to hope that any of Murtha's several unpublished novels might see the light of day, but his stories can now form a permanent part of Canadian literary history.

Sep 21, 2023, 5:27 pm

Just started Wednesday's Child, a short story collection by Yiyun Li. I really like her work (well, with the exception of her last novel, The Book of Goose), and if the rest of the stories are anything like the first, this will be a winner.

Dic 27, 2023, 1:50 pm

I finished Great Sports Stories by Herman L. Masin. This is a collection of short stories on sports themes published in 1957. The publisher is Scholastic Magazines, and the anthology is aimed at what we'd now call the YA market. I guess I'd agree that most of the stories are most appropriate for adolescent readers, but I also found that the tales were universally well written and, even at my own advanced age (68) I enjoyed every story here. Maybe part of that enjoyment had to do with all the reading I did of these types of stories back in childhood days. Many of the stories deliver morals, of course. There's the young shortstop who learns a lesson in humility and forgiveness from an older player on a barnstorming team that comes through town, a basketball player with a secret past that he hopes won't be discovered in each new town he moves to, and an immigrant father learns new things about being an American from his son, the high school football star. The most interesting, and most sophisticated story, has to do with an American fencing star who is so good he has been accepted on a fencing team in pre-WW2 Italy. But in the lead-up to the big match against their longtime rivals, our hero gets a first-hand look at Mussolini's Black Shirt thugs and life under fascism. Of the thirteen stories here, the only authors who were familiar to me were Frank O'Rourke and William Saroyan. Since so many of the stories pertain to baseball and American football, I think this book would be best enjoyed by U.S. readers. A note that I am one of only two LTers to include this volume in our libraries.

Dic 27, 2023, 2:10 pm

The Missouri Review - Volume 21 Number 2: Men edited by Morgan Speer:

I don't know why or where I bought this 1998 edition of The Missouri Review, but I've had it on my shelves at least since my LT "Big Bang" in 2008. The stories, essays and poems featured here all seem to be by authors who were just starting out on writing careers. Some of these folks published one or more books later, and some barely register in online search engines. And, as noted in the issue's title, all of the stories had to do with men and their experiences. At any rate, I found the entries of very high quality all in all. William Gay's story, "Those Deep Elm Brown's Ferry Blues," about a young man dealing with his father's advancing dementia; Peter Walpole's "Distant Lights in the Foothills Beyond Owari-Eki," about a Japanese train engineer contemplating life after retirement; Ron Nyron's "Ordinary Apples," a subtle fictional coming-of-age reminiscence; and Otis Haschemeyer's "The Storekeeper," about a war correspondent's final assignment were particularly good. There was an interesting series of letters between Katherine Anne Porter and Robert Penn Warren, and a very interesting interview with poet Harvey Shapiro, whose work I will now have to investigate.

Feb 5, 10:03 am

Just started The Devastating Boys by Elizabeth Taylor and just finished the titular story, which wasn't bad. We'll see how the rest go.

Feb 15, 8:31 pm

I just started Seeking Fortune Elsewhere by Sindya Bhanoo. First story was great. (There are eight.)

Feb 15, 11:26 pm

I’m attempting to read a short story each day through 2024 to see if l can get through some of my many story collections.

Finished Tales: Short Stories Featuring Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford by Charles Todd.

Feb 15, 11:41 pm

>246 nrmay: You would have thought I’d had enough of strange after The Discomfort of Evening but I’m currently reading Korean writer Hans Kang’s The Vegetarian. It’s also an International Booker winner. This prize appears to attract dark novels. I couldn’t finish the 2021 At Night All Blood is Black as it was too dark for me. But I should be able to finish this Korean winner as I managed to Watch “The Sqid Game” on Netflix.