Recommendations: Short Story Collections

I love short stories. I only started properly reading them a few years ago but I have developed such an appreciation for the format. When a short story is done right, it can pack an unbelievable punch.

16158505I am currently reading A Guide To Being Born by Ramona Asubel, a rather brilliant collection, with twisty, dark, wonderful, magical stories (I understand why Jen Campbell names this as one of her favourites) and the reading experience got me thinking about what I like in the collections I adore. I gravitate towards short stories with a bit of a magical twist – I find these stories to be super mesmerizing. I also appreciate more realistic stories but here I often find that these collections are overall rather bleak which can get too much for me.

Here are some of my favourite short story collections, in case you are (like me) always looking for more collections to read.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

28818921Nobody is surprised to see this collection of this list: I adored every second of it. I am in general a huge fan of Roxane Gay’s writing and these stories are a perfect example for her prose and her characterization, which I am just in awe of. The stories are well-plotted and purposefully structured. You can find my review here.

 

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

29236311One of my all-time favourite books, everything about this spoke to me. Marra tells an overarching story in wonderfully structured short stories. His command of language is impressive, his way of characterising people with a sentence and a half something that I find fascinating, and his sense for pacing and plotting is absolutely on display here. Be warned though, the book and its subject matter is bleak (it is after all set in Chechnya and unblinking in its depiction of war and atrocities), but Marra infuses it with just enough hope to be a stunning ode human connection. I cannot wait for his next book.

The Brink by Austin Bunn

22693283I loved this (and its perfect cover!). The stories all deal with some sort of Brink – often the end of the world as we know it. I adored the vagueness of the stories and the punch they had. Bunn is a another of those authors whose next work I am eagerly awaiting. You can find my review here.

 

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

32874103Another set of interconnected short stories where I found the whole even greater than the sum of its parts. Strout shows great tenderness for her characters while being unflinching in her portrayal of their short comings. Her stories are wonderfully structured and impeccably paced. She excels especially in depicting families in all their dysfunctional glory. I adored this. My review is here.

Tales of Falling and Flying by Ben Loory

33570520These stories are peculiar. They feature anthropomorphic animals (amongst other things) and revel in their weirdness. But for me, these stories worked exceedingly well and I had a blast with this collection. There is just something poetic and lyrical in the way Loory’s language flows and his imagination is glorious. My review can be found here.

 

The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks

25622828These stories just combine everything I adore in short fiction: they are magical and weird, wonderfully written, and often feature sibling relationships (I adore that). Her language flows wonderfully and every story in this collection is strong on its own. My review can be found here. (Sparks is apparently working on a new collection, an angry, feminist collection, which I cannot wait for.)

Do you read short stories at all? What are your favourite collections?

Review: Tales of Falling and Flying – Ben Loory

33570520My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Date read: 20 August 2017

Published by Penguin, September 2017

Verdict: Addictive, wonderful, quirky.

Find it on Goodreads.

Ben Loory returns with a second collection of timeless tales, inviting us to enter his worlds of whimsical fantasy, deep empathy, and playful humor, in the signature voice that drew readers to his highly praised first collection. In stories that eschew literary realism, Loory’s characters demonstrate richly imagined and surprising perspectives, whether they be dragons or swordsmen, star-crossed lovers or long-lost twins, restaurateurs dreaming of Paris or cephalopods fixated on space travel. In propulsive language that brilliantly showcases Loory’s vast imagination, Tales of Falling and Flying expands our understanding of how fiction can work and is sure to cement his reputation as one of the most innovative short-story writers working today.

It took me about three stories to find the rhythm of Ben Loory’s cooky, brilliant, weird, wonderful writing style – then I stopped questioning what was happening and just went where his imagination took me – and I adored this. This collection of very short short stories reads unlike any I have read before and I absolutely, totally loved it. I sped through it in two sittings and then was a bit mad at myself because I made it end so soon – but the stories were so addictive! Thankfully he has written another short story collection that I will have to check out sooner rather than later.

Ben Loory tells stories reminiscent of fairy tales and fables but always with a twist. His anthropomorphic animals are a joy to read about and reminded me of my favourite stories as a child. He trusts his reader to just follow him and go with it and he absolutely managed to enthrall me. His stories are beyond weird but still somehow grounded in something humane and real even though they are super short and quick.

As I am finding out, I like short stories with a bit of weirdness and magic in them and these fit the bill perfectly. And when they are as exquisitely rendered as these are, then I am a very happy reader.

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I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Penguin Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so very much for that!