The short stories of Helen Ellis’ upcoming collection, American Housewife: Storiesare all wildly improbable and instantly relatable. In each story, Ellis invites readers into a unique setting, like a sinister book club of traded favors, a child star fleeing the pageant circuit for a new life with a new family (“Drop the ma’am and the sassy walk to blend in in New York,” she’s advised by the woman who connects ex-pageant queens with childless couples seeking pretty white daughters), or a haunted–but terribly clean–Manhattan co-op. Descriptions of Southern manners and Manhattan evenings are both pitch-perfect, which is probably what makes the murder, kidnapping and revenge all seem perfectly realistic.
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|Recommended by Meg Stivison||Monday, August 31st, 2015||2 Comments »|
By no means is Raymond Carver ever one to just tell you what he means. That’s what makes his writing so wonderful—the fact that he writes all around the point he is trying to make, forcing readers to partake by reading in-between the lines. However, when it comes to stumping the literary world, there is one short story that really does have most of its readers scratching their heads by the end of it. I’m talking about “Fat.”
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Tuesday, June 9th, 2015||No Comments »|
Haruki Murakami is a name you should know by now, and if it’s one you don’t, you have great things awaiting you. In 2001, The New Yorker published one of his shorts, “UFO in Kushiro,” a work that was inspired by the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Available to read online for free, there’s no excuse not to have read this beautiful piece of literature.
The tale blurs the line between modern and mystical, telling the story of a man with no insides. Murakami’s writing is filled with powerful symbolism and a slew of characters that are both eerie and playful in their demeanors. “UFO in Kurshiro” builds off of Kobe, Japan’s tragic earthquake, but Murakami doesn’t stop there, taking his protagonist into a ghost-like and soul-sucking setting that serves as its own character.
You may be able to read this story in less than a day, but it’s certain to stick with you for much, much longer.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Thursday, May 21st, 2015||No Comments »|
People have a tendency to either love or hate New York City… narrow that group of people down to writers and the emotions behind those opinions expand in tenfold. Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York is a collection of short stories that focus on exactly what the book’s title implies, while Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakeable Love for New York curates just the opposite types of stories. Sari Botton, who edits both books, collects a wide range of vignettes and does well in pairing them together. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you turn the page and realize you have so much more to hear.
Whether you’re a writer, a New Yorker, or someone looking for a good collection of short stories, these two books are worth the read—and with contributors like Emma Straub, Ann Hood, Whoopi Goldberg, and Amy Sohn, you’re bound to find a story or two that sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading.
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Thursday, May 14th, 2015||No Comments »|
If you’re sick of seeing the same old classic literature authors on the shelves of your local bookstore and are in the mood for something exciting, the science-fiction anthology Sound and Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk should certainly be right up your alley. While the authors of the short stories do borrow from the Bard, the end result is Shakespeare as you’ve never seen him before.
For example, Macbeth is adapted into a dystopian cyberpunk tale that cautions you about being careful what you wish for. Yet despite the futuristic setting, each of the five authors manage to preserve the heart of Shakespeare’s tales, and literature geeks will enjoy scouring each piece for little nods to the original tale, too.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, April 24th, 2015||No Comments »|
If there’s one book that proves genre fiction’s ability to transcend the literary arts world, it’s Ray Bradbury’s classic short story There Will Come Soft Rains. A tale that hauntingly depicts the end of human life through the voice and actions of a futuristic smart house and a destroyed surrounding landscape, Bradbury’s writing is as otherworldly as it is of this world. Originally published in 1950 in the pages of Collier’s, There Will Come Soft Rains was ahead of its time and still manages to grip readers as powerfully as it did when it was released. A quick and easy read, this short story will stick in your memory for years and have you contemplating the world at large long after you’ve turned the final page.
“The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick up flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him, a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.”
|Recommended by Chelsey Grasso||Monday, April 6th, 2015||No Comments »|
The master of mystery, magic, and horror is back with a new collection of short stories that ponders the masks we wear and our individual stories. Gaiman mixes the modern world with that of the fantastical in Trigger Warning. From re-visiting the world of his beloved novel American Gods in the short story “Black Dog,” in which the main character wanders alongside murder victims, to “Down a Sunless Sea,” where an old woman hides a dreadful secret, each story will have your hair standing on edge.
However, not all of his stories are out-and out creepy. In one tale, he has a wife spilling the secrets of her late husband to anyone who will listen in a spine-tingling metaphor for the onset of Alzheimer’s. While Gaiman’s monsters are scary, it’s the unveiling of the masks that we wear in our daily life that are the real horrors.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, March 4th, 2015||No Comments »|