Some Affection for Short Story Collections


Did you know May is National Short Story Month? I didn't either, which is why I'm blogging about it with just a week left in the month. But I stock up on short story collections at this time of year because I think they're a great way to get ready for the warm-weather. Short stories are bite-sized and non-committal--the perfect compliment to a summer that's strange, surprising, and spontaneous. (I also like owning short story collections more than I do novels, since I'm more likely to revisit them.) So I've listed a few new collections (some of which I'm looking forward to), a handful of tried-and-true classics, and a few from the past ten years that I believe are new classics.

If you have more short story recommendations, let us know in the comments!

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Comments (18)

I'd add Maile Meloy and Mary Gaitskill to this list.

How did spring become the province of poetry and stories?

Posted by: Christie | Monday May 23, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Isaac Bashevis Singer is manadatory in this list, at least in my opinion.

Posted by: scott baxter | Monday May 23, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Love Junot Diaz's collection. I'd also add Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro. Look forward to looking at your blog!

Posted by: Christine @ BB | Monday May 23, 2011 at 6:20 PM

I would add kiana Davenport's HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES. It's only $1.99 for the ebook.

Posted by: Jerri Patton | Monday May 23, 2011 at 6:27 PM

"The Things They Carried" -- Tim O'Brien

Posted by: Dean B. | Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 5:34 AM

Miranda July's 'No One Belongs Here More Than You' is a must read collection. I am also hearing great things about Robert Boswell's 'The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards'.

Posted by: Georges June | Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 7:17 AM

William Trevor's collected stories is an absolute must. Master of the form.

Posted by: Rob | Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 8:23 AM

My favorite short story collection is by Monica Wood...ERNIE'S ARK 0345477162.
Try will be happy that you did.

Posted by: Diane | Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 9:47 AM

I'm unbelievably snobby when it comes to short stories. It feels like an intellectual cop out, even when compared to the most frothy of novels. (And yes, I realise that that is ridiculous.)

Is there any collection that anyone would recommend, that would be good for someone who normally leaves a person shaped hole in the wall whenever she faces the prospect of reading them? I keep wondering if I'm missing out, and I'd like to know firsthand if I am. It's just that there are so many and I have no idea of where to start.

Posted by: Liz | Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 10:09 AM

@Liz: What do you mean when you say short stories are "an intellectual cop out"? If you can say a little more about that, I think we can find you the right short story collection :)

Posted by: Kevin Nguyen | Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 1:51 PM

"Ghostwritten" by David Mitchell. A fantastic series of interconnected short stories by the best writer around.

Posted by: Dean B. | Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM


I'm not saying that they are a cop out. I'm saying that they feel like one.

I dunno, I think it's because when I'm reading fiction I normally like big, thick novels with lots of big words and big ideas. I like the feeling of being challenged, or at least of being able to show that I'm taking on a challenge.

I don't like the Ernest Hemingway/Herta Muller style of writing - I prefer something to grab hold of. I love the nineteenth century doorstop novels, and authors like Marisha Pessl, as well as fantasy series.

I have no idea if this will help. :)

Posted by: Liz | Wednesday May 25, 2011 at 10:25 AM

OH! i second the miranda july recommendation!

Posted by: katie | Wednesday May 25, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Coronado - Dennis Lehane.

Posted by: Katie | Thursday May 26, 2011 at 7:55 AM

@Liz: I see what you're saying. You're looking for broad themes and a big whallop. True, you usually won't find the same kind of resolution in a short story, but great short stories pack just as much emotional punch as any novel. What's better is that you can re-read them again.

I think the best short story collection for you would be one that's thematically cohesive. I recommend Annie Proulx's "Close Range: Wyoming Stories" (one of which is the basis for the film "Brokeback Mountain"), which I really should have included in this post.

Posted by: Kevin Nguyen | Thursday May 26, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Last year's "Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self" by Danielle Evans was brilliant.

Posted by: Wilhelmina Jenkins | Friday May 27, 2011 at 5:14 AM

I'm an avid fan of David Mitchell. I love his books. Excellent!

Posted by: houses for sale in blackpool | Monday June 6, 2011 at 3:21 AM

"Enterprise of Death"story is also add in the list.

Posted by: gang wars, | Thursday June 30, 2011 at 2:52 AM

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