Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Short Fiction for the Busy Holidays

During the busy holidays, we will have even less time to read Freedom or Matterhorn. But we should have time to read a few short stories, especially ones that are just as weighty or thought-provoking as a full-length novel. I just finished reading If I Loved You I Will Tell You This - each story is like a mini-novel, the characters are fully drawn, the paragraphs pack a punch, and worlds are contained in a single page.

Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives by Brad Watson
Dysfunctional world of divorce, alienation, and domestic unrest. Here, eccentricity and madness are the norm, and life, even in its best moments, is unrelentingly bleak.

Alone With You by Marisa Silver
Eight stories, three first published in The New Yorker, tap into the unsettled nature of our times. In “Temps,” an Oklahoma transplant rooming with another temp worker in a loft in L.A. finds herself in a love triangle that happens almost at random. Other characters who find themselves in extremis—facing cancer, recovering from suicidal depression, adjusting to life after emergency bypass surgery—somehow find the confidence to move forward into uncertainty.

Best Short Stories of 2010
Reviewers have said that the 2010 collection which was edited by Richard Russo is vibrant and engaging and without the distractions of heavy-handed philosophy and stylistic tricks.

Burning Bright by Ron Rash
Intense twelve story collection focuses on the people of Appalachia who though impoverished refuse to give up their pride even as they seek a shimmer of happiness.

How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique
Set mostly in the U.S. Virgin Islands, part oral history, part postcolonial narrative.

If I Loved You, I Will Tell You This by Robin Black
These then fresh and original stories were written over eight years, each demonstrating the rewards of a writing and re-wrtiting. Her characters try to imagine life through each other’s eyes even as they accept that this is one sight they can never see.

Sourland by Joyce Carol Oates
More dark stories from Oates about people who are severely tested, profoundly punished, and tragically transformed.

A Taste of Honey by Jabari Asim
Author of The N Word, uses 18 vignettes to re-create the racial tensions of 1967 in a fictional Midwestern town. Asim's portraits flesh out through the stories, sprinkling humor as the book moves beyond depicting police racism and hard lives.

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