Short Story Collections -- Year-long Group Reading!
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Welcome to the Year-Long Group Thread for Short Stories!
This will be a spot where we can all drop by to make notes (recommendations?? warnings??) about short story collections, and try to work in some of those shorter reads that can so easily pass by the wayside as we pick up weightier reads.
There are so many great collections out there, I'll start by recommending a few of my favorite short story authors--here's hoping you guys start out by doing the same, and then we can go from there!
Some collections I'd recommend...
Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman
The Illustarted Man by Ray Bradbury
Inflictions by John McIlveen
Everything's Eventual by Stephen King
The Best Seats in the House and Other Stories by Keith Lee Morris
The Men of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
Brain Work by Michael Guista
For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios by Yann Martel
And for readers interested in atmosphere/place, Akashic Books has a Noir series of short stories for cities all over the world. I've only read a few, and some of the stories included are more 'noir' than others, but it can be fun to read stories of places you're familiar with :)
What about everyone else? Suggestions of favorites, recent or old?
THE LIST OF OUR COMPLETED BOOKS!!!
1. Tell Tale: Stories by Jeffrey Archer - MarthaJeanne (21) - general fiction - 4 stars
2. Baking with Kafka by Tom Gauld - Kac522 (29) - cartoons
3. Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 207 - MarthaJeanne (35) - sci-fi/fantasy - 1 star
4. The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling - cmbohn (37, 42) - general fiction
5. Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie - Kac522 (41) - mystery
6. Age of Perpetual Light by Josh Weil - LittleTaiko (44) - literary - 2 stars
7. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor - RidgewayGirl (45) - souther lit - 5 stars
8. The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book - Leslie.98 (49) - fairy tales - meh/2.5 stars
9. Very Good, Jeeves! - Leslie.98 (55) - general fiction - 4 stars
10. The Whispered Tales of Graves by Cesar Aira - luvamystery65 (58) - general fiction - enjoyable but not for everyone
12. The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier - rabbitprincess (65) - dark general fiction - 4.5 stars
13. Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino - LittleTaiko (68) - literary fiction - 4 stars
14. ...alle Bitternis der Welt by Vsevolod Garsin - MissWatson (70) - war related fiction
15. To Cut a Long Story Short by Jeffrey Archer - MarthaJeanne (71) - mystery/thriller - 4 stars
16. The Ivory and the Horn by Charles de Lint - mathgirl40 (72) - fantasy - 4.5 stars
17. Aesop's Fables - narrated by Jonathan Kent - lumamystery65 (73) - fables - okay/3 stars
18. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander - Sallylou61 (77) - literary fiction - 3.5 stars
19. The Tales of Max Carrados by Ernest Bramah - Helenliz (80) - mystery stories - interesting, but a bit repetitive
20. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado - RidgewayGirl (81) - fairy-tale-ish - read like a collaboration of Angela Carter & Kelly Link
21. Six shorts 2017 : the finalists for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story - MarthaJeanne (84) - short short fiction - 2 stars (but the first was 'actually quite good')
22. The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: Volume 7 - Louis L'Amour - fuzzi (85) - westerns
23. Mary Russell's War by Laurie R King - cmbohn (86) - detective/Sherlock Holmes - disappointing
24. Eggs, Beans and Crumpets by PG Wodehouse - Helenliz (87) - lighthearted mystery
25. Tales of India: Folk Tales from Bengal, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu - MarthaJeanne (89) - Folk tales - 3.5*
26. Happiness, like Water by Chinelo Okparanta - Helenliz (90) - literary and illustrated, many dealing with domestic abuse - "unsettling"
27. In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar - staci426 (91) - general fiction dealing with Filipino diaspora - "quite good"
28. The Man with Two Left Feet by PG Wodehouse - cmbohn (95) - lighthearted mystery - "fun, but not his best" 3*
29. Beasts and Queens by Susannah Rowntree - cmbohn (95) - fairy tales - "pretty good" 3*
30. The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes - LittleTaiko (97) - general/literary fiction - 'one of my favorites--did not disappoint'
31. Teen-Age Dog Stories by David Thomas - fuzzi (101) - mainstream/genre - 3*
32. Murder Under the Christmas Tree - Helenliz (103) - themed mystery collection - 'pretty good'
33. Last Writes by Catherine Aird - Helenliz (104) - mixed collection
34. Bon Voyage, Mr. President and Other Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Jackie_K. (105) - mainstream & magical realism - 3*
35. The Breaking Point by Daphne du Maurier - rabbitprincess (106) - 'Very good as always' - 4*
36. Von Selbstmördern, Engeln und anderen armen Teufeln (About Suicides, Angels and other Poor Devils) - MarthaJeanne (107) - general fiction - 4.5 stars, with lower score for one long story in the collection.
37. The Convict and Other Stories by James Lee Burk - Helenliz (112) - general fiction - "quite good with one real stand-out"
38. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks - LittleTaiko (113) - general fiction featuring typewriters - "a pleasant collection"
39. Redeployment by Phil Klay - leslie.98 (114) - war stories - glad to have read it
40. You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld - RidgewayGirl (115) - "just excellent"
41. Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener - sallylou61 (116) - WWII - 3 stars
42. Wish I Was Here by Jackie Kay - Helenliz (118) - general fiction
43. Calypso by David Sedaris - LittleTaiko (123) - memoir - 'funny and poignant'
44. Complete Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton - rabbitprincess (128) - 4*
45. Crimson Snow: Winter Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards - rabbit princess (128) - 3*
46. We Should Have Left Well Enough Alone by Ronald Malfi - sturlington (129) - horror - 3* - earlier stories in collection better than later ones
47. The Man in the Yellow Raft by C.S. Forester - rabbitprincess (133) - 3.5*
48. Bird in the House by Margaret Laurence - mathgirl40 (135) - general fiction - 4.5*
49. The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis - mathgirl40 (135) - general fiction - 4.5*
50. The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis - MarthaJeanne (131, 136) - 5*
51. Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders - LittleTaiko (138) - dystopian - 2*
52. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado - sturlington (140) - literary/feminist fiction - 5*
53. Pistols for Two by Georgette Heyer - MarthaJeanne (141) - mystery
54. Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt - sturlington (144) - weird fiction - 4*
55. Märchen aus Österreich, a book of Austrian Fairy Tales - MarthaJeanne (145) - fairy tales--dark enough to not all be for children!
56. The Found and the Lost by Ursula K. Le Guin - MarthaJeanne (149) - fantasy - not as enjoyable as her other Earthsea tales
57. Reality, Reality by Jackie Kay - Helenliz (150) - "a really good collection"
I don't read a lot of short stories, but I have a few collections sitting on my shelves, so maybe this will be the inspiration to read some of them. I read two collections last year that I could recommend for horror story fans: Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, volumes one and two.
What do you guys think about keeping track of reads? I'd first thought of perhaps making a wiki, but now I'm not sure that makes sense. Maybe we should just all take turns numbering so that at the end of the year we know how many books the group completed? (i.e. one person writes #1 Title, another writes #2 title when they complete one, and so on and so forth) Or, I could create a master list, early in this thread, and just update it as folks note books they've read? Thoughts?
I highly recommend The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen - it was one of my favorite reads from 2017.
I know I have a couple of mystery short story collections on my shelves that I'll get to this year. I also just picked up Her Body and Other Stories from the library and have the Tom Hanks collection, Uncommon Type as well.
My first collection of the year will be The Musical Brain and other stories by Cesar Aira.
The two I pick up over & over are Kurt Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House and Dorothy Parker's Complete Stories.
I also love Zenna Henderson's Holding Wonder & The Anything Box (hard to find but worth it if you like fantasy/sci-fi), Roald Dahl's Collected Stories, Edwidge Danticat's Krik? Krak!, Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch, Julie Orringer's How to Breathe Underwater, George Saunders's Tenth of December and the short stories of Stephen King, Etgar Keret, Jhumpa Lahiri & Truman Capote.
>10 madhatter22:, I forgot about Welcome to the Monkey House--I really like that one also!
My goal this year is to make sure I get to The Shell Collector--it's another collection by Anthony Doerr. I know most people know him for his novel All the Light We Cannot See, but I fell in love with his writing via the short stories in Memory Wall :)
Meanwhile, I do think maybe a complete master list would make the most sense, and I can keep it updated. Any objections to my just adding it to the bottom of the first message on this thread, and when I list each (read) work, I'll also list genre beside it, as well as stars if the lister noted how many they gave it? So at any time, we can go up there and see what the group has read, and how they (also listed) liked it?
As an FYI, Louis L'Amour may be best known for his westerns, but I think he excelled in the short story genre. He wrote adventure stories as well as historic novels.
There are any number of books containing his short stories, but my favorite has to be War Party. Yes, they are mostly "westerns", but don't let that put you off. I love his characters, including strong women.
>11 whitewavedarling: Sounds like a good plan to me! I'll be sure to stop by with my reviews/ratings when I finish a story collection.
So happy to see this thread! I have an LTER book that I have carried over from 2017 that will fit nicely here (once I read it, that is): The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove.
I've started reading Tell Tale. (Yes I know, but I had forgotten that I had the ebook on hold.) The first story is only 100 words, but is a good story. (There is also a 100 word introduction explaining how he came to write it.)
>8 dudes22:, both those collections sound interesting to me. I'm going to put them on my Wishlist now.
>15 MarthaJeanne:, I love collections that include little notes about where the ideas came from! It's one of those things I love King for--every collection of short stories and novellas I've read by him yet, there are little notes like that. I think Gaiman included them in at least one of his collections that I read also, though I don't see them often as I'd like. I'll have to look up that collection you're speaking of now, no matter how short the stories!
>19 MarthaJeanne:, Good to know! Either way, I haven't read him before and I do love good short stories, so I'll have to look him up.
I'm already taking a lot of book bullets from this thread :)
Finished Tell tale. The stories are great. However the final section of this already short book is advance chapters for a novel that will be coming out in the Fall. I gave it 4 stars. I considered dropping to 3 1/2 for padding it with advance chapters from an upcoming novel. But the stories really are very good.
ETA I consoled myself by borrowing his In the Eye of the Beholder from OverDrive. This is a single story from another collection. Excellent 4 1/2 stars.
>21 MarthaJeanne:, Thanks for starting us off!
Everyone, I started a list in the first message of this thread--it's got book title & author, reader, genre, and number of stars. I'll keep it updated as we go forward so it'll be there for fast reference :)
>22 whitewavedarling: Message links don't work for messages after the link.
>23 MarthaJeanne:, ah, okay lol. Thank you :) I'll change it to being your name, and put the message number in parentheses...
>27 Roro8: - I'm glad to know that. I not much of a short story reader. Just about the time I get into the story, it's over :)
I was going through some boxes of books that hadn't gotten unpacked yet from the move and came across a few more short story collections. SO I have choices, but will probably read Grand Central first.
Dropping a trail of breadcrumbs for this thread. Short stories haven't been something I have read a lot of, but that may be about to change. I used to listen to audiobooks in the car while driving (10 hours a week gets you through a pretty chunky book pretty quickly!). Now I've changed job, I'm commuting less, so don;t want to leave the best part of a week between chapters of a book. In which case I'm looking to listen to short stories, as they're probably more amenable to irregular listening than a novel. I can stop at the end of a story, and no have to remember where I'd got to when I next get in the car.
>29 kac522:, What did you think of it? Something you'd recommend or give stars to?
>30 Helenliz:, That argument might have just convinced me to give audiobooks a shot! I normally don't have the patience to listen to anything but music because I simply get distracted and wander off into my own head or whatever my hands are doing (which is always something), but I can see myself being able to listen to an occasional short story while exercising or traveling when I don't have the eye-energy to read...
I've been tempted to try audio books because others here seem to like them a lot, but I never have for various reasons. But a short story collection might be just the way to try it.
The best American science fiction and fantasy 2017
I assume there must have been some good science fiction stories written in the USA in 2016, but they aren't in this book. *
I'm planning to read a collection of Charles de Lint's short stories, The Ivory and the Horn, next month for the SFFKIT and I hope to get to Margaret Laurence's collection A Bird in the House later this year.
Two of the best short-story collections I've read in the past few years are The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra and All Saints by K. D. Miller. The latter is, in my opinion, especially underrated and doesn't deserve its obscure status.
Just finished The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling. This was the Dover thrift edition with five short stories.
>34 whitewavedarling: I ended up only reading 4 of the stories for now & it was a mixed bag. Hawthorne's style is not what I prefer but I did like "The Vision in the Fountain" very much.
>36 mathgirl40: I enjoyed The Ivory and the Horn and it is one of those collections in which the stories gain from being read together. It is time for me to explore some more of de Lint's Newford series!
>37 cmbohn: I liked that but it is even better in the Sean Connery/Michael Caine movie!
I am now reading Angela Carter's The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book (which is the American title of The Virago Book of Fairy Tales). I like the fact that the stories are from all over the globe but must admit that the overall impression so far (about halfway through) is that Carter chose stories with an emphasis on women who manage to trick men (whether or not the men deserved it).
>35 MarthaJeanne:, I've also found that those best-of collections can be disappointing :( It sometimes feels like editors are too busy trying to figure out a variety that will appeal to the masses to find really distinctive stories, or else that they choose variations on the same type of story over and over again, so that they get repetitive... ah well. I'll remember not to pick that particular one up.
>37 cmbohn:, what did you think of the collection? Kipling is one of those authors I keep meaning to get to, and I never quite get around to him, though I feel like I should...
>39 leslie.98:, ah, okay :) I loved the stories I read by him long, long ago, but then again, I like most anything that's dark when it comes to short story form, and his were some of the few dark stories they actually gave us in high school!
Tonight I finished Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie. Fourteen short stories from her early years. I liked these stories because the solutions are generally shorter and simpler and easier to follow, even though I couldn't solve them, to be sure!
39- I haven't seen the movie, but I will have to look for it.
40- I really enjoyed it. It was only 5 stories, so if you could locate a copy it would be a great way to see what you think. Kipling is one of my favorites.
I've started reading more short story collections after thinking that I wasn't really a short story kind of reader. Turns out the ones I don't like are the more literary types of stories, which is unfortunately what the collection I just read was like. The Perpetual Age of Light was just a bit too strange and unfocused for my personal tastes. Too many times I'd start a story and be confused as to who was narrating and what on earth they were talking about. There were a couple that I liked, but overall it just fell flat for me. 2 stars
I'm a huge fan of short stories, but I read far too few of them. That said, I did just finish A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor. The entire collection gets a rarely bestowed five stars from me. I highly recommend the title story -- it's a hammer and it's genuinely brilliant.
>45 RidgewayGirl: That's a story I first read over 25 years ago in college, and it still sticks with me to this day.
I can't believe I have never read any Flannery O'Connor until now. I mean, this book has been sitting on my shelf unread since 2011. I'm going to read more of her and also, once again, make a firm resolution to read more short stories.
I have finished The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book and my overall impression is meh -- it was okay but I prefer the fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson or the brothers Grimm...
I think that my next book of short stories will either be a Wodehouse or a mystery collection (maybe John Thorndyke's Cases which will work for February's AlphaKIT).
>50 whitewavedarling: Oh, I plan to read all the O'Connor I can find. I'm on a Southern Lit kick anyway.
It seems like I read that story back in school, but I don't remember a thing about it now. Maybe I should give her a try again?
>52 cmbohn:, It's one of the only short stories I actually remember reading in high school--and honestly, I don't know what they thought made sense about giving that to high schoolers--but I didn't actually appreciate it or enjoy it till I read it in graduate school.
>48 RidgewayGirl: I don't know when I bought Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories but I haven't read it yet and I've had it at least since I joined LT in 2009. (Before that I'd worked for Borders for 10 years and I really wish now that I'd kept the price stickers on all the books I bought b/c they had the date the book was received, which would usually give me a decent idea of when I'd bought it.)
I've read a few stories from it but I'd like to read them all this year.
I gave in to impulse and decided to listen to the audiobook of Very Good, Jeeves!, one of the first short story collections in the Jeeves & Wooster series. Jonathan Cecil is a delight to listen to in the Wodehouse books & this one is no exception.
I finished The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove by J.S. Bailey et al Overall, I like the result achieved with this anthology where the editors create the setting and a short backstory and let the individual authors loose to create away.
I finished The Musical Brain and other stories by Cesar Aira. Aira is a rambler, but if you hang on the stories pay off. He starts the story one way and then goes out of context. Not sometimes, all the time. It's well done, but his style of writing may not be for everyone.
>58 luvamystery65:, what did you think of it? Let me know, and I'll add it to the mystery list in the first thread, and make it clear whether you're recommend it or no :)
>62 leslie.98: Your 2nd choice would also fit ColorCAT because vines are green.
I finished The Birds and Other Stories, by Daphne du Maurier. 4.5 stars (one of the stories went on a bit long for me). The title story I was reading for the second time, having first read it in audio, and once again it was chilling and perfect.
>65 rabbitprincess: That was a good collection. It convinced me to give du Maurier another try. I loved The Apple Tree. So perfectly creepy.
>65 rabbitprincess: That sounds good - I do like du Maurier but have never read any of her short stories. Taking a BB...
I picked up Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino this weekend since it fit the ColorCAT - Brown. It was a fun collection of stories featuring Marcovaldo, a well-meaning but sometimes inept man trying to take care of his family while constantly being distracted by his love of nature. Each story is from a different season and they cover a few years of his life. I gave it four stars.
I'm half way through The Tales of Max Carrados by Ernest Brammah and narrated by Stephen Fry. They are OK in short doses. It gets a little repetitive about his lack of sight. Also I'm slightly sceptical about his abilities, things like how he seems to look when someone points, he reads normal text by running his hands over it. It was published at the same time as Sherlock Holmes in the same magazine. I think that Holmes is the better read.
I made a very pleasant discovery with ...alle Bitternis der Welt, the collected stories of Vsevolod Garšin. Written in the 1880s, they are mostly sad and reflective. His experiences as a volunteer in the Russian-Turkish War permeate everything. Surprisingly modern, too.
To cut a long story short **** is another excellent collection by Jeffrey Archer.
Listened to Aesop's Fables narrated by Jonathon Kent. It was okay. I remember many of these from my childhood, but it was nice to have a listen to them in one collection.
I am starting Improper Stories by Saki -- I love the humor in his short stories!
I just read What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank by Nathan Englander for my book club. These short stories all feature Jewish themes; I would have understood them better if I was more familiar with Jewish culture. I was impressed with how different the stories are. "Everything I Know about My Family on My Mother's Side" is a very interesting piece of writing, being 63 numbered thoughts; I'm not sure I would call it a story.
>78 whitewavedarling: . No, this is the first book I have read by Englander. It sounds as if he is getting around this month. He is going to be the featured luncheon speaker at the upcoming Virginia Festival of the Book later this month. Also, as part of the Festival, he will be speaking at our local branch library. What We Talk About ... Anne Frank is our regional library's "Same Page" program of encouraging the whole community to read and discuss a single book. It is replacing The Big Read for which our library did not receive a grant this year (and thus cannot participate in that program).
Finished The Tales of Max Carrados by Ernest Bramah. They are set over a range of time frames, the latest being likely in the late 1910s, likely after 1916.
Max has murky origins that are never quite explained, and is blind. Again, cause unknown. This does pose an interesting challenge to a detective, one would have thought. And some of the ways he overcomes that lack are interesting and inventive. Although I'm not sure he could necessarily read text by running his fingers over it. Maybe if it were heavily embossed that would seem possible but reading the newspaper that way strikes me as a little unlikely.
They get a bit repetitive, you are reminded several times in each story that Max is blind. It got a bit wearing. However they are interesting enough, especially when well spaced out.
Six shorts 2017 : the finalists for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story… **
The first story, by Kathleen Alcott was actually quite good.
I forgot to let you know I'd read The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour: Volume 7:
Mary Russell's War by Laurie R King
A disappointing collection. I did read the whole thing, but only a couple of the stories were worth the time, and I think I had read them before. One of them features a missing Sherlock Holmes who is apparently 135years old. WTH? King explains by saying that Holmes can never really die, but hey, when did he become a vampire? Don't spend money 💰 on this one, but if you want to get it from the library, that's up to you.
ETA - Holmes did NOT become a vampire, I'm just wondering how else you could explain his longevity.
Eggs, Beans and Crumpets is a collection of short stories by PG Wodehouse.
Listened to this in the car, a series of short stories. They feature Bingo Little, who is a Drones Ckub colleague of Bertie Wooster, but these aren't Jeeves & Wooster stories. They are narrated by an unnamed fellow member of the club. To be honets, I thought these the weakest of the lot. The Mr Mulliner story was good (I like the way the listeners in the pub are identified by their drinks, not by mane), as were the 3 Ukridge stories. These last 3 were probably the most successful, in terms of story and the narrrator, they seemed to mesh well together. It's the usual story, not enough money and loosing the girl features heavily. Nothing to get too serious about, they're lighthearted fun.
Tales of India : Folk Tales from Bengal, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu I hadn't heard these before, but they are typical folk tales, nicely retold. This was apparently a March ER book. I got it from OverDrive. ***1/2 The eBook had some problems, as words with unusual characters were not formatted correctly.
Finished Happiness, like Water a series of short stories by a young Nigerian female writer. They are vividly drawn pictures, but I have to note that a number of them feature domestic abuse (both physical and emotional). I don't know if that is the writer's experience, or is representative of a Nigerian cultural norm. Either way, I found it unsettling.
>90 Helenliz: I just finished a novel by the same author, Under the Udala Trees, and was thinking about trying her short story collection as well. I really enjoyed the novel, it did not feature the domestic violence like you mentioned in the stories.
I did also finish a different short story collection which was also quite good, In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar. This collection of stories deals with the Filipino diaspora.
I'm adding SO many bbs to my long TBR list based on this group :) For anyone not paying attention, the group has listed 27 read books now. At this rate, we'll make it to a 100 short story collections in 2018!
I am reading some more Thorndyke mystery short stories in The Singing Bone.
I finished two collections lately, The Man with Two Left Feet by PG Wodehouse and A Fairy Tale Retold by Susannah Rowntree.
>92 whitewavedarling: - I can't believe we've read that many so far - very impressive.
I have one more to add to the list - The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes. He's one of my favorite authors and this collection did not disappoint. It's eleven stories that deal with aging. Maybe not the most uplifting topic but I thought they were well done.
>97 LittleTaiko:, I know! We're on track to read more than a hundred this year :)
>98 RidgewayGirl:, I'll be curious to hear what you think of his short stories. I finally got around to reading one of his novels this year, and still really haven't decided what I think of it, though I do want to read more of him.
I finished another last night, Teen-Age Dog Stories, edited by David Thomas:
I have found that short story collections can be a mixed bag of good, mediocre, and awful tales, but Teen-Age Dog Stories was a pleasant exception to my usual experience with the genre. A couple of the stories included were old favorites from familiar authors, but the others were good enough to make me want to look up other works by their authors. Don't let the title dissuade you from trying this book: the stories within are not juvenile, include more adult themes, though never in a graphic manner.
Looking for a Y title for the AlphaKIT, I stumbled upon another short story collection by Wodehouse: Young Men in Spats. I love Jonathan Cecil's narration of Wodehouse so I look forward to starting this in a day or two!
Slightly unseasonably, I read Murder under the Christmas Tree, as it was a series of short stories and that format works well when travelling.
All pretty good. Some I'd read before, others were new to me. Pretty good collection, all in all.
I listened to Last Writes by Catherine Aird. Not read anything by her. It's a mixture of a collection. not all mysteries, some are more puzzles or physiological stories, almost morality plays. A few of the stories are real dazzlers (the woman on holiday and the divorcee particularly tickled me). There are some that are set in the same location and feature the a common character or two. Of these, those featuring Henry Fyle in the foreign office in the late 30s were most enjoyable. They usually start with him phoning to visit his sister Wendy in the country for a few days. And he turns up with a puzzle that Wendy solves with some particular insight.
I've not been contributing to this thread (short stories not really my bag), but just noting that I have just finished Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Bon Voyage, Mr President and Other Stories, one of the little Penguin 60 books published in the mid-90s to celebrate their 60 years of publishing. It features 4 short stories - the first one, which gives the collection its title, is by far the longest, taking up about half the book, about a deposed Latin American/Carribean president anonymously seeking medical treatment in Geneva, where he is discovered by a fellow exiled countryman who happens to work in the hospital. Only the final one (a mere 4 pages) features the magical realism for which Marquez is famous. I think my favourite was the third one, about a woman who is accidentally admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Spain. I can't say I warmed to any of the characters, and wouldn't rush to read any of his longer works, but the writing was great, not a word out of place (credit to the unnamed translator too for that). 3/5.
Earlier this month I read another Daphne du Maurier collection: The Breaking Point. Very good as always. "The Blue Lenses" and "The Menace" were my favourite stories.
Von Selbstmördern, Engeln und anderen armen Teufeln (About Suicides, Angels and other Poor Devils)
This is a book mostly of very short stories that remind me of O. Henry and de Maupasant. There is usually a clever twist, and if the characters aren't really developed, well, what do you expect in 4 or 5 pages. The book finishes with a longer story - 50 pages. There is one twist after another, but still no character development. The shorts get ****1/2 from me, which I have left on the book, but the longer story only **.
Like all such collections, it would be better read one story at a time, rather than all at once. I would be very surprised if this has been translated into English.
>107 MarthaJeanne: I don't usually enjoy short story collections but I happen to have several unread, so I'm trying this--reading one at a time, just dipping in now and again, instead of trying to read the whole thing at once, as I would a novel. I'm finding this approach more satisfying with the individual reads, although slow-going to complete the whole book. Also there have been a couple of stories that just didn't work, so I stopped reading them and selected another one without feeling the guilt of not completing.
>109 MarthaJeanne: Agreed. I tend to buy short story collections but not read them.
I finished The Convict and other stories. All set in, or with characters from, what I think of as backwater southern America it is not exactly a cheery selection. They're all set in or after war, with a character who either has flaws, or who id facing a word that is flawed. I thought it quite a good collection, with one real stand out.
I know it is a small thing, but the way that the audio was presented was really helpful. It was 1 CD with one story and 4 CD each with 2 stories. No having to change CD mid story, which gets really annoying It is only a small thing, but, you know, the small things make all the difference.
I've been reading Tom Hank's Uncommon Type off and on for the last couple of months and finished it today. A pleasant collection of stories that all feature a typewriter in some way.
I listened to the audiobook of Redeployment which turned out to be short stories about soldiers & veterans of the Iraqi war (and a few about Afghanistan). Klay does a good job illustrating why some opt to redeploy even though they hated being in Iraq; how the experience created a barrier between the returning soldier & his friends and loved ones at home that is difficult to breach even in the best of circumstances.
I am not generally a fan of war stories and would never have read this if I hadn't gotten it as a free giveaway from Penguin Random House Audio. However, I am glad now that I did read it as I feel that I have a (slightly) better understanding of some of the difficulties these vets face.
For the Pacific Ocean square of BingoDOG I read James A. Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. I particularly enjoyed the stories relating to the musical South Pacific such as "Our Heroine" featuring Nellie Forbush and Emile De Becque, "Fo' Dolla'" featuring Bloody Mary, Lt. Cable, and Liat, and "Those Who Fraternize" featuring four of Emile De Becque's daughters. In the book De Becque has eight daughters by at least three different women, none of whom he married instead of a daughter and son as in the musical. Other characters from the musical also appear various stories in the book. I found the last story in the book "A Cemetery at Hoga Point" in which the narrator talks to one of the two Negro caretakers about the men buried very moving. Not surprisingly, many of the stories are about the military and the men's lives; as a whole, I did not find these stories as interesting.
World War II
For those looking to try some new Scottish mystery authors, the Bloody Scotland collection edited by Lin Anderson is very good.
Recently finished Wish I was Here.
This collection of short stories are all about love, and mainly about loosing it. Noticeable that the majority deal with a lesbian relationship, which certainly allows a different take from the "oh, he's left me" style of love. Some of them grabbed me more than others, in some of them there's a sense of what happened next being a mystery - leaving Hamish & Don on a mountain in Scotland has to the be ultimate in cliff-hangers - which feels like there is unfinished business there. The other thing that dawned on me is that most of these tales are about a longer-standing relationship, some of them had been a couple for 10 to 15 years before we hear about them, this isn't the usual young love, this is a more mature, more settled kind of affection that is being turned on its head. Maybe that increases the surprise at the breakup at all.
The writing is at times stark and at others lyrical. I believe she also writes poetry and in the rhythm of some of the sentences, that really comes out, she has a ear for a turn of phrase, that is for sure.
It's not always a very hopeful set of stories, in some of them you wonder how the narrator will extricate themselves from their situation. Yet, bizarrely, the one that I found most hopeful was the one about the man whose wife has left him and he's decided to commit suicide. Something in the fact that he wants to do it without it looking like suicide and by doing so starts to pull his life together makes me think that he, of anyone in the book, will make it through and out the other side of the breakup slough of despond.
>119 MarthaJeanne: - sorry, sorted now.
I tend to forget that there may be other items with the same name and that it isn't psychic enough to know which item I'm thinking of!
I often wish it would automatically pick the one I have open in another tab, but it's not that smart.
The book I finished today has the title Ma. That was a hassle to look through. I found a combining opportunity before I found my book.
I'm working on Tom Hank's Uncommon type. So far, as an author, Tom Hanks is a very good actor.
>124 MarthaJeanne: - Aw, that's too bad, I liked the stories overall. Some of the ones towards the end were his strongest. I especially enjoyed how he had several stories about the same group of friends sprinkled throughout the book. The first one with the friends I didn't necessarily like but by the end I liked seeing what they were up to. Though I agree he's a better actor than author. :)
Quite outside of the silly typewriter gag, there are little things. It took me several pages into the first story to figure out that the narrator was a man. Someone goes shopping with friend Anna in my experience is usually a woman. And all the stories I read are just so exaggerated. That first one goes from good friends with no sexual tension to a wild affair and back in three weeks. A story about Christmas Eve morphs into war flashbacks, and suddenly the main character is missing a leg. The schedule for an actor on a publicity tour. Sorry, I don't believe several 16+ hour days in a row with only a 5 minute break. Not if the actors are supposed to be presentable. I wasted enough time on the book to get to page 145. I haven't come across even one character that I care about. By this point if I don't want to pick the book up and see what he is going to write next, reading further is probably not going make me change my opinion.
To be totally fair, I should add that right now I'm going through a bad patch, and books have to grab me through some pretty bad pain. However, both Niemals Indien, travel essays about India and Revolution (Ackroyd), a fairly serious history of England in the 18th century are succeeding.
I'm so enjoying catching up on this thread :)
We're at 43 books now, and I figure I'll continue this into a new thread when we get to 50, and draw notice to 4 and 5 star reads. Most of the books in the top post's list don't have ratings, but if you want to glance at the books you've read there, you can let me know if you want me to add a 4-5 star rating and make sure they carry into recommendations on the next thread!
I'll post the whole list there, too, but with it getting so long, I thought it might make sense to draw attention to particular ones. Or should I just bold those strongest rated ones, rather than making a new list? Any thoughts?
Good idea to draw attention to the highest-rated ones, whether by bolding or some other means.
I rated The Breaking Point four stars; forgot to mention it earlier :)
I've re-read The Complete Father Brown, by G.K. Chesterton (4 stars) and just finished Crimson Snow: Winter Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards (3 stars).
I'm working on several short story collections in fits and starts, but I finished my first one for the year: We Should Have Left Well Enough Alone by Ronald Malfi, a collection of horror stories.
I don't read a lot of single-author short story collections because I invariably find them uneven. They would always be much stronger if the editor would cut the number of stories by half, leaving only the strongest stories. Malfi's best stories come mostly at the beginning of this collection, and the opener, "The Dinner Party," is a finely crafted shocker that sets up strong expectations for what follows. Malfi is at his best when he leads you down one path and then takes a sudden unexpected turn, like a knife twist in the gut, such as in "The Jumping Sharks of Dyer Island" and "The Glad Street Angel." Many of his stories are unsettling and throw the reader off-kilter but in a good way; see "Knocking" and "The Housewarming." But with the exception of the squirm-inducing "Discussions Concerning the Ingestion of Living Insects" toward the end of the collection, the stories in the latter half of the book fall flat. If this collection had been half as long, I would have easily given it five stars. As it is, I rated this three stars.
>128 rabbitprincess:, awesome :)
>129 sturlington:, I'm sorry the second half of the book fell short--I'd been looking forward to that one. At least the first half was that strong, though; it's nice to know that going into it, too. Maybe I'll read it from back to front story-wise so it goes uphill instead of down :)
I'm working on The Best by Connie Willis right now. One problem with single author collections is often that after three or four good stories they start all sounding very similar. Connie Willis' stories are quite varied. Of course the fact that each story won either a Hugo or a Nebula doesn't hurt.
>131 MarthaJeanne:, I feel like that a lot of the time also. Not always, but it happens a lot with mainstream/literary collections especially.
Just finished *another* short story collection: The Man in the Yellow Raft, by C.S. Forester. All of these stories are set in the Pacific theatre of operations during WW2, and most feature the American destroyer USS Boon. The stories may have been a bit technical for my heatwave-fried brain, but there were a few stories with clever twists that I enjoyed. 3.5/5.
I finished a classic CanLit collection, A Bird in the House by Margaret Laurence, which is set in small-town Manitoba and has some autobiographical elements.
I also finished The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis, a recently published collection that examines the theme of love in some unusual situations. I especially liked a story about a pot dealer whose girlfriend competes for a spot on a Mars mission in a reality show.
I gave both books 4.5 stars each. While reading The Dark and Other Love Stories, I wondered if Laurence's writing influenced Willis, but then I read an interview in which Willis cites Alice Munro as a primary influence.
>134 MarthaJeanne: I'll have to make a note of that one. I loved the Connie Willis novels that I've read.
>131 MarthaJeanne: Then I get to the end of the last story, and find a note from the editor that as a special treat (!?!?!) she as added in three of Willis's speeches. Well guess what. The speeches are in five star territory as well. The best of Connie Willis gets five stars from me. I found the stories consistantly good, but very different, so that reading them together was not a problem.
>136 MarthaJeanne:, That's great to hear! It's nice that they added the nonfiction, as well, and that they lived up to the stories--that's so rare.
And, that brings us to 50 short story collections read this year! I was going to continue this into a new thread when we reached 50 books or the halfway point in the year, whichever came second, but it looks like we don't have enough messages for that since I'm not seeing the option.
In any case, I've gone back to the first message and bolded all of the books with 4-5 star ratings, as well as a few where folks didn't list the number of stars they gave, but certainly made it sound like at least a 4 star read! If you see any mistakes or want me to add a rating for one of the books you read, just let me know :)
I have one more to add though sadly it is definitely not a 4 or 5 star book. I finished Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders and did not really enjoy it at all. There was one story that wasn't too bad but the rest were too dark for my personal taste, but then again I'm not much of a dystopian fan. I'd give it more of a 2 star rating.
>138 LittleTaiko:, I have yet to read something by him that makes me understand how widely I hear him praised. I remain on the look-out, but...?
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado has turned the oppressions that women face in our society into literal horrors. Each story in this collection is surprising, provocative, often darkly funny, and different from the one that came before. And at eight stories, this collection is the perfect length. I started off listening to the audiobook, but halfway through the third story, I bought a paper copy because I knew I would want to read these stories again and again. The strongest story is the opener, "The Husband Stitch," which uses urban legends to illustrate how men try to entirely possess women, allowing them nothing that is theirs alone. And the final story, "Difficult at Parties," moved me to tears. This book will definitely find a place in my favorite reads of the year, I'm sure. (5*)
Pistols for two
I'm a big Georgette Heyer fan, and reread her books often. I like the novels better, I think. You get longer to enjoy the characters. But these stories are also old friends. She is regnancy romance at its best, and indeed most other regnancy romance disappoints if you know Heyer's books.
>141 MarthaJeanne: Another Heyer fan here! It has been years since I read those short stories - maybe it is time to reread them :-)
>141 MarthaJeanne: I'm reading all her romances in publication order, only 25 or so before I get to that one!
Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt is a nicely curated collection of weird stories. With only eleven stories, this collection is an ideal length, and each story is distinct from the others. Wehunt's stories are weird, atmospheric, disturbing rather than scary, with an Appalachian flavor. Yet even though they deal with bizarre subjects--a man changing into a swan, a mountain that bleeds, women falling from the sky--the underlying themes are very familiar, dealing with such core human experiences as loss, grief, longing, and loneliness, and I think that's what grounds these stories. Wehunt also includes brief story notes, which I always appreciate; I like to know what inspired short stories and why they were written. 4 stars
Does this count here? I just finished Märchen aus Österreich. a book of Austrian Fairy Tales. As with Grimm, there are several in here that you would not want to read to children. Several are variations on well-known fairy tales. I gave it three stars.
>145 MarthaJeanne: In my opinion, of course it counts here! Isn't it surprising how dark some of the original fairy tales were?
>146 leslie.98: 'Ghost' stories to tell by the fire side. Certainly they were never meant to be just for children. What hit me in this collection is how often the king offers his daughter's hand to whomever for whatever without any care for her opinion. The worst was one where the king took the babies from his wife, said he was having them killed, verbally abused her, then sent her back to her poor (ie no money) parents, calls her back to serve as a servant in his palace. Finally when the two children are grown he admits that they are still alive, applauds his wife for being obediant and true in spite of everything, and they all live happily ever after.
>147 leslie.98: I haven't read a lot of her books, but I have enjoyed what I have read. I'll look this one up.
ETA, yes, Good story of its type. Most notably for Science Fiction in the 50s - The main character is female. As one reviewer puts it, 'a smart, capable, unattractive female'. We forget how exceptional that was. Gutenberg has several more of her stories as well.
I just finished The found and the lost ****
This is a collection of novellas, some of which might qualify as long short stories, others are longer. I like most of her work, but don't really find the ones set in Earthsea appealling. The last story in here, Paradises Lost is one of the longest, but also one of the best.
I had this from OverDrive, and didn't finish in my first borrowing period, and there were holds on it, so I read it in two batches.
Just finished Reality, Reality by Jackie Kay. A really good collection, again. All narrated in the female voice, I listened to this and the audio book was narrated by 4 or 5 different women, taking stories in turn. It worked really well. The one about the woman starting on her diet was absolute genius.
MarthaJeanne, fairy tales definitely count! I enjoyed catching up with all of your reading, too :)
>144 sturlington:, I'm going to have to look that one up sooner than later...
The Well Ain't Dry Yet by Belinda Anderson. This is an interesting although uneven collection of stories about people of various ages and races in West Virginia. The stories "Reunion" and "Picasso's Cat" (in which a cat locks the owner of a car out of his car) are humorous although I would not call this a humorous book. 3 stars
Boule de suif et autres nouvelles by Guy de Maupassant. Very bleak outlook on life, but he can write.
Another book of novellas finished: Menschen im Krieg by Andreas Latzko. Written in a furious, feverish rage at the waste of lives.
I finished the underwhelming collection Dangerous Women edited by Gardner Dozois. This was a huge collection, over 32 hours on the audio, with multiple genres (historical, sci fi, fantasy, mystery) of stories with a "dangerous woman" central to the story. There were no real stand out stories here for me and I did not finish three of them.
Dipping into Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.
This is a big book. Category: feminist science fiction. I started off by reading The Screwfly Solution, a chilling story about femicide that made NPR's 100 Best Horror Stories list. Followed that up with almost its opposite: Houston, Houston, Do You Read? -- like Herland in space but with a darker underbelly.
I will continue to dip into this from time to time. The writing is very good, the themes thought-provoking, but I don't like reading a mass of short stories by one author all at once, as they tend to blend into one another.
I finished listening to The Rendezvous and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier. They are wide range, most of them containing some form of mystery. These vary from a detective type mystery to ones containing a supernatural element. They tend to contain a twist, some of which you see coming, others are less obvious.
I listened to this narrated by Edward da Souza, who has a very pleasant reading voice.
I didn't read the whole thing, but I did dip into Night Shift by Stephen King for an upcoming book club meeting. This would be a reread.
For me, this collection of early King stories doesn't hold up as well as the stories in Skeleton Crew. A lot of these stories are overly familiar from their movie adaptations and seem gimmicky now. There are a few that bear up to rereading, though, notably, "I Am the Doorway" and "I Know What You Need." I also enjoyed "Night Surf," a sort-of forerunner to The Stand, which is one of my all-time favorite King novels.
I just finished an interesting collection, In Sunlight or In Shadow edited by Lawrence Block. Each story was inspired by one of Edward Hopper's paintings. Some of the authors included in the collection are Stephen King, Lawrence Block, Megan Abbott, Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child. My favorite from the collection was probably, Block's Autumn at the Automat inspired by the painting Automat. I wasn't familiar with Hopper's artwork, other than his painting Nighthawks, but I really like it and really enjoyed this collection. The one negative was with the audio edition, it did not mention which painting was being used for each story. Sometimes audio books will have a digital PDF that you can download as well with illustrations and things, this audio would have benefited from that. I ended up borrowing the ebook edition from the library as well as the audio so I knew what the paitings were. I give this collection 4*.
I just finished read Some Trick by Helen DeWitt. Enjoyed it very much!
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