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Thread: Best short story collections?
February 17th, 2009, 02:59 PM #1
Best short story collections?
I'd like to get my hands on some more short story collections. I've hugely enjoyed some of Raymond Carver's (Will You Please Be Quite, Please? and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love) and Haruki Murakami's (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman) over the past year or so and am wondering if there are any other collections that people here would recommend? I know as a genre it doesn't always get much attention, but if you look in the right places there are some fantastic offerings to be found.
February 18th, 2009, 06:22 AM #2
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The following are a few of my favorites from more mainstream writers:
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson: a seminal work of American realist fiction; this isn't quite a novel but it's effect is something more than a random grouping of stories. The same urge that later sparked Hemingway's move east away from the mid-west propels these stories.
Cane by Jean Toomer: prose and poetry by a writer from early in the Harlem Renaissance; lovely writing, and lyrical.
The Dubliners by James Joyce: If you haven't read this, you'll want to look into it. The early stories are somewhat fragmented, but they lead well into the concluding novella, "The Dead," which is one of those pieces of writing that has earned it's high reputation; absolutely wonderful prose with an ending that's sad and poignant and so beautiful it kind of hurts.
My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber: lighter reading and, for me, hilarious; the best of Thurber's sentences still have the crack of a whip
Stories by Frank O'Connor by (oddly enough) Frank O'Connor: Irish master of the short story; his "Guests of the Nation" was required reading and in numerous anthologies for years and "My Oedipus Complex" is one of the funniest stories I've read by someone who wasn't considered a humorist
Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen: your liking for Carver makes me think this might be up your alley. Four longish stories, as I recall, all centered around the homelife of women, and rivetting in spite of that
The All-Girl Football Team by Lewis Nordan: Another collection of, for me, funny stories; Nordan doesn't just go for the laugh, though, he's looking into the lives of his characters, some of them rather eccentric
The Consolation of Nature by Valerie Martin: the first story is actually a fantasy and was included in one of the Datlow/Windling Year's Best anthologies; the rest of the stories verge on fantasy, have a Gothic feel; Martin wrote an excellent novel, too, Mary Reilly, that might be of interest to some fantasy/horror fans
I Hate to See that Evening Sun Go Down by William Gay: One of the best story collections I've read in the new century. Gay is a teller of tales with that flair and lilt that seems to go with the air of the American South. But there's also steel in the spine of each story.
More Shapes than One by Fred Chappell: this one has a lot of fantasy content, with the appearance of H.P. Lovecraft as a character in one of the stories. Chappell's yet another Southern writer, like Martin and Gay, and he has that sort of story-telling inclination.
The House on Mango Street by Susan Cisneros: not really stories, more like fragments, and many of them, that all patched together gives a feeling of time and place and the characters evolving there. Wonderful prose.
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter: really, fantasy, but by a writer who was adopted by the mainstream even though much of her work tinkered with fairy tale and folklore. This is feminist writing that doesn't seem to preach but instead illustrate the feminist perspective; funny in spots, and witty and exuberant throughout.
Sheesh. Can't believe I almost forgot this one,
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien: like Winesburg, Ohio, a not-quite novel, a series of stories tied together by setting and characters, the title story alone worth the price of the book. O'Brien writes not only of Vietnam and the people there, but of story and what pulls it together, what's important in it. This is virtuoso writing and the best thing I've read by O'Brien, including his much praised Going After Caccioto.
Last edited by Randy M.; February 18th, 2009 at 06:42 AM.
March 6th, 2009, 10:27 AM #3
I read Daphne du Maurier's The Birds and Other Stories recently and really enjoyed it.
I know some people find Winesburg, OH boring, but I loved it. I had to read it for a college course and walked away feeling glad it was assigned, otherwise I might not have picked it up.
March 6th, 2009, 11:18 AM #4
I enjoyed Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Interpreter of the Maladies". Also Margo Lanagan's "Black Juice", though that one leans heavily on the fantasy side.
March 6th, 2009, 12:13 PM #5
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Have you considered Dreamsongs Volume I & II by George RR Martin?
It spans his entire career. It starts with his first works and slowly progresses. If you have a love of GRRM, it is really incredible to see his style develop and eveolve to what we have from him today. It has a good deal of award winning short stories.
March 7th, 2009, 09:55 AM #6
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The Martian Chronicles is more like a story collection than a novel, although all the stories are connected.
There are pretty good suggestions up there.
If you like Southern fiction, don't overlook classic authors like Flannery O'Connor or William Faulkner. I can't stand Faulkner's novels (except for Light in August, which is coherent) but many of his stories are compelling.
March 8th, 2009, 05:07 PM #7
A couple of my favorites have been mentioned -- Raymond Carver and William Gay. I'd add Richard Yates -- he's got the 50's malaise down pat, and Ron Hansen's Nebraska collection.
For genre fiction, there's nothing better than Bob Leman's Feesters in the Lake and Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts.
March 11th, 2009, 10:48 AM #8
The Book I,Robot is in reality a set of short stories concerning the applications of androids and their effect on the future both religiously and politically as well as their effect on the world and on the individual. this book raises many questions about what the future of robotics holds for us in reality and what AI means to the world. Issac Asimov's master peice and the origin of his amazing three laws of robotics.
May 13th, 2009, 04:47 AM #9
If you want to discover what life is all about, get up out of bed, leave the house, go to your local bookshop and buy any collection of Anton Chekhov's short stories, before running home and delving into the little masterpieces.
Chekhov was and still is the absolute master of the short story.
I would recommend About Love and Other Stories.
May 15th, 2009, 03:31 PM #10
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Chekhov puts me to sleep. I prefer these fine gents in the short story department: Edgar Allen Poe, O. Henry, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce, Stephen Vincent Benet, Saki, and Guy de Maupassant. Also read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
You can probably download the stories from the internet.
Poe - "A Cask of Amontillado"
O.Henry - "Gift of the Magi", "A Retrieved Reformation"
Bierce - "A Hanging at Owl Creek Bridge"
Benet - "The Devil and Daniel Webster"
Saki - "The Open Window"
Maupassant - "The Piece of String"
Last edited by Bond; May 15th, 2009 at 03:52 PM.
May 16th, 2009, 05:39 AM #11
Maupassant was a fantastic talent. Two Friends is my favourite of his stories.
April 11th, 2012, 02:41 PM #12
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Night Shift by Stephen King
Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Coldprint by Ramsey Campbell
The Death Artist by Dennis Etchison
The October Country by Ray Bradbury
anything by Poe, Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, M.R. James, Onions, Bierce, or Hawthorne
The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
That's all I got for now.
April 16th, 2012, 09:58 AM #13
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If you want Asimov short stories, pick up Robot Dreams. There's also We Think Therefore We Are by Peter Crowther. In the same vein of real sci fi collections, check out Vacuum Diagrams by Stephen Baxter.
The list posted earlier of King's short story books is good; I think the only one that was missed was Four Past Midnight.
There's also Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.
Also, I recently ran across my copies of Peter S. Beagle's Immortal Unicorn collection. It's a two-volume compilation of short stories by Beagle along with other authors he admires. I haven't read it in a long time and plan to do a re-read this week. There's one in particular about an old woman using tiny unicorns to kidnap children from a schoolyard that creeped me out years ago and I can't wait to read it again.
May 23rd, 2014, 12:19 AM #14
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May 23rd, 2014, 10:28 AM #15
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Stories edited by Tobias Wolf - http://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Contem...ry+anthologies
The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: Fifty North American American Stories Since 1970 - http://www.amazon.com/Scribner-Antho...+short+fiction
NOTE: there are two editions of this anthology, both are good but I prefer the first one (in the link) for the slightly different selection of stories by certain authors. Many of the same stores are in both editions. In particular the linked edition contains The Prophet from Jupiter by Tony Earley one of my top favorite stories at the moment, also Wild Horses by Rick Bass and Emergency by Denis Johnson (all of which don't appear in the later edition).
There are the Norton and Oxford anthologies which are also good but the two above are better IMO.
Last edited by kennychaffin; May 23rd, 2014 at 11:38 AM.