Story Collections Community Read-Along January 2013

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Story Collections Community Read-Along January 2013

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Editado: Dez 1, 2012, 5:11 pm

There being enough interest in the few groups I've talked about it in, I've set the group up.

I figured I'd offer some ideas of first-time authors' collections each month, but I'd see it more as a place to meet and trade opinions and reviews, with no planned group reads. Some would come about naturally, of course, and no one would be discouraged from group-reading, but it wouldn't be the focus of the thread.

I'll post a link a month in the Group Reads threadbook located here.

Some January ideas:

1. Volt: Stories by Alan Heathcock

The Book Description: One man kills another after neither will move his pickup truck from the road. A female sheriff in a flooded town attempts to cover up a murder. When a farmer harvesting a field accidentally runs over his son, his grief sets him off walking, mile after mile. A band of teens bent on destruction runs amok in a deserted town at night. As these men and women lash out at the inscrutable churn of the world around them, they find a grim measure of peace in their solitude.

Throughout Volt, Alan Heathcock’s stark realism is leavened by a lyric energy that matches the brutality of the surface. And as you move through the wind-lashed landscape of these stories, faint signs of hope appear underfoot. In Volt, the work of a writer who’s hell-bent on wrenching out whatever beauty this savage world has to offer, Heathcock’s tales of lives set afire light up the sky like signal flares touched off in a moment of desperation.

Heathcock's collection, published in 2011, won the GLCA New Writers Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction, and the author received the Whiting Award.

2. We Are What We Pretend to Be: The First and Last Works

The Book Description: Called “our finest black-humorist” by The Atlantic Monthly, Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Now his first and last works come together for the first time in print, in a collection aptly titled after his famous phrase, We Are What We Pretend To Be.

Written to be sold under the pseudonym of “Mark Harvey,” Basic Training was never published in Vonnegut’s lifetime. It appears to have been written in the late 1940s and is therefore Vonnegut’s first ever novella. It is a bitter, profoundly disenchanted story that satirizes the military, authoritarianism, gender relationships, parenthood and most of the assumed mid-century myths of the family. Haley Brandon, the adolescent protagonist, comes to the farm of his relative, the old crazy who insists upon being called The General, to learn to be a straight-shooting American. Haley’s only means of survival will lead him to unflagging defiance of the General’s deranged (but oh so American, oh so military) values. This story and its thirtyish author were no friends of the milieu to which the slick magazines’ advertisers were pitching their products.

When Vonnegut passed away in 2007, he left his last novel unfinished. Entitled If God Were Alive Today, this last work is a brutal satire on societal ignorance and carefree denial of the world’s major problems. Protagonist Gil Berman is a middle-aged college lecturer and self-declared stand-up comedian who enjoys cracking jokes in front of a college audience while societal dependence on fossil fuels has led to the apocalypse. Described by Vonnegut as, “the stand-up comedian on Doomsday,” Gil is a character formed from Vonnegut’s own rich experiences living in a reality Vonnegut himself considered inevitable.

Along with the two works of fiction, Vonnegut’s daughter, Nanette, shares reminiscences about her father and commentary on these two works—both exclusive to this edition.

In this fiction collection, published in print for the first time, exist Vonnegut’s grand themes: trust no one, trust nothing; and the only constants are absurdity and resignation, which themselves cannot protect us from the void but might divert.

3. 420 Characters: Stories

The Book Report: Within this collection of miniature stories, entire worlds take shape—some like our own, some hallucinatory fairylands--populated by heartsick cowboys, random criminals, lovers and drifters. In a dazzling narrative constellation, Beach’s characters contend with the strange and terrible and beautiful in life, and no outcome is certain. Begun as a series of Facebook status updates, 420 Characters marks a new turn in an acclaimed artist and illustrator’s career, and features original collages by the author.

Dez 1, 2012, 9:17 pm

Richard, you've outdone yourself! What a wonderful introduction to the thread that you have set up! All three of those sound fabulous - I won't know where to begin. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to do this for us - I'm really looking forward to participating!

Dez 1, 2012, 9:23 pm

Richard, I agree, all three of those books look really interesting. I was pleasantly surprised to see Volt listed because I bought that book two years ago just because the author is a Boise resident. Like most books I buy, I haven't read it yet but this thread may be just what I need to get that done. Thanks for setting it up!

Dez 1, 2012, 11:22 pm

>2 Crazymamie: Oh goody good good Mamie, I hope they'll be good'uns for us all. *smooch*

>3 phebj: Hi Pat! Glad you're here, and that I accidentally picked one of your locals for the kick-off is lagniappe. His win of the Whiting Award made me really curious to read his work. They've supported such leading lights as Michael Cunningham before now.

Dez 2, 2012, 12:25 am

A few suggestions from my TBR shelves:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander

The Future is not Ours: New Latin American Fiction by Diego Trelles Paz

The Words In My Head by Words Without Borders

Tropical Fish: Tales From Entebbeby Doreen Baingane

From Africa: New Franciphone Stories by Adele King

Dez 2, 2012, 7:14 am

Nice idea. I'll try to keep up.

Dez 2, 2012, 8:07 am

RD- This is a great idea. I have had a short story fixation for a couple years now but still don't get to as many as I would like, but of course continue to add titles like a rabid madman. Volt: Stories sounds terrific. I have not heard of this one.
These are some of my projected S.S. reads:

the Miniature Wife and Other Stories My latest ER collection
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth I owe thanks to Bonnie for this one. It looks great.
Dangerous Laughter
How to Breathe Underwater
I would also love to get to another Alice Munro and I heard Karen Russell has a new collection coming out.

hemlokgang- I loved What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank. Enjoy!

Editado: Dez 2, 2012, 9:22 am

Richard ~ I LOVE this idea! I am in! I am just starting to get more into short stories (having learned the craft too from a recent fiction writing class - I won a medal amongst 12+ community colleges for best short story!). Throught that, I have learned the brilliance and hardship that goes into creating a short story. It's hard work! So I really enjoy reading/witnessing the masters at work!

I too love the Volt and 420 Characters: Stories suggestions (I'm just not a Kurt Vonnegut fan, despite trying super hard, but maybe I'll give that one a go). I am pretty new to the genre, but have a few suggestions based on things I heard were good, or others loved, or I have partially read (in publications or in class) and/or are on Mount TBR:

1. Anything by Edith Pearlman.

2. Hush Hush by Steven Barthelme

3. I once did a very wandering search of various short story collections (for a plane ride), and The Pen/O'Henry Prize Stories of 2011 appeared to be a standout with various reviewers - not sure if anyone would be interested in doing a collection like that. I think 2009 looked like a standout for Best American Short Stories

4. Because I'm trying to experience new genres, I think these two blend fact and fantasy: The Hospital for Bad Poets by J.C. Hallman and Here Comes Another Lesson by Stephen O'Connor.

5. The Paris Review Book of People With Problems by various, again, another collection, but PR often picks some great stories, and the title seemed interesting!

6. No Paradiso by William Wall (Irish writer)

7. Ben Fountain did this great collection Brief Encounters With Che Guevara (his first novel just came out, I think).

Just some ideas, but I love the "go with the flow" way of doing it ...

Thanks for starting this wonderful pocket of the internet.

Dez 2, 2012, 12:44 pm

>5 hemlokgang: Wow, some great ideas here! Are you leaning towards one more than the others for January? I will probably read Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe in January or February.

>6 ffortsa: It's not structured enough to keep up with, Judy. Come and go as you please! Monthly threads aren't for ONLY the collections mentioned, but for any collection you've read that calendar month. I'd like links to reviews, or even post them, that's fine too.

>7 msf59: More good ideas, Mark! I'm looking forward to reading your review of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories.

>8 CarolynSchroeder: Hi Carolyn! MORE fabulous ideas! Some of those have been waiting for me forever. Ben Fountain is one...he's got the chops, by everything I've read about him, to be a long-running favorite.

I'm always happy to read the multi-author collections. I envisioned this, for myself, as a discovery mechanism for I focused more on the single-author collections in my thinking.

Nothing anywhere here says that's set in stone, or imposed on anyone else who comes by to share the experience with us!

Dez 2, 2012, 1:32 pm

For the record, one of my all time favorite collections is Good Scent From a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler and also both collections by Andrea Barrett.......and the collection by Can Xue.

Dez 2, 2012, 2:16 pm

I haven't read the Can Xue...maybe I will in February!

Editado: Dez 2, 2012, 4:23 pm

Wow great ideas here. I will second Tunneling to the Center of the Earth which was nearly 5 stars for me. I read and loved Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision and Andrea Barrett's Ship Fever and would love to get her Servants of the Map off my shelf.

Lorrie Moore's Birds of America may call my name also. But probably the next s.s. collection I read will be Harriet Doerr's Tiger in the Grass. Unless it's Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried or the two Alice Munro's I have sitting on my shelf. Of course, as Carolyn suggested I do have the O. Henry Prize Stories 2005 and Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned has been well reviewed. Decisions!

Editado: Dez 2, 2012, 5:23 pm

Nice ideas above

I need to get to my short stories shelf (planned one... now they are all over the place) and see what's there.

Dez 2, 2012, 5:07 pm

Posted as bait. Ignore if you don't need trapping.

Dez 2, 2012, 5:15 pm

I figure I'll finally get around to reading Binocular Vision and I've put Dear Life on hold at the library.

Editado: Dez 2, 2012, 5:20 pm

Equal opportunity bait.....
wait for it....

I'm really not very good at finding and copying images...... but she is pretty.

Dez 2, 2012, 9:12 pm

She is indeed!

Dez 2, 2012, 9:15 pm

Ooof, hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew, but I've been meaning to get around to reading short stories for years now. This might do the trick! Thanks for setting it up, Richard!

Dez 3, 2012, 9:18 am

Heh...another victim participant lured in...

Dez 3, 2012, 10:49 am

So: are we looking at contemporary authors only? Or are some older types (e.g., John O'Hara, Fitzgerald, whathaveyou) allowed as well? Of course I need the push toward the contemporary types, but I'm just wondering about some former favorites.

Rdear, you are an evil tempting man.

Editado: Dez 3, 2012, 11:03 am

I am definitely on boad the Richard train. Not surprised to see Mark and Mamie here too I must say.
I will probably choose from the following 20 and try to read one every four weeks or so. This may prompt with a few ideas:

A Life Elsewhere by Segun Afolabi
Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie
You Know When the Men are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
The Complete Western Stories by Elmore Leonard
Ireland : A Traveller's Literary Companion by PJ Kavanagh
Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield
The Collected Stories by Lorrie Moore
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
Field Study by Rachel Seiffert
A Bunch of Fives by Helen Simpson
The Portrait of a Lady by Khushwant Singh
A Bit on the Side by William Trevor
Collected Stories by Tennessee Williams
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson
41 Stories by O'Henry
To Build a Fire by Jack London
The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories ed Malcolm Bradbury
Give Me Your Heart by Joyce Carol Oates
Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro

I will choose Ellen's choice of reading partner in preference to RD's.

Dez 3, 2012, 11:12 am

>20 Matke: This is really a make-your-own challenge, Gail, I'm not in charge of anyone else's reading choices! I'll offer suggestions each month, and folks say yea or nay with their own reading. I want to get some heat going with stories here among the readers of the world. A space to talk about the stuff read might make that happen!

>21 PaulCranswick: Dear goddesses! That's like a year's reading for most civilians, and I'm quite sure it's but a fraction of your shelf-load. If we can get some of them read with this challenge, you'll be way ahead of the game.

Goody! I only need to keep studlymuffins away from Terri now.

Dez 3, 2012, 3:29 pm

Stopping by to star this thread, Richard. Such a great idea! I am on board for some short story collections reading in 2013! I don't have any lurking on my TBR bookcase but my local library is very helpful by placing 'short stories' stickers on the book spines - gives me a whole new reason to browse the shelves - like I need another reason to do so! ;-)

Editado: Dez 3, 2012, 4:38 pm

Really nice idea for a thread Richard! I'm not particularly diligent when it comes to planning my reads in advance, but as I'm a lover of short stories I hope I'll float in and out of the conversation as the year goes by.

Larry Brown is possibly my favourite author of recent times, and his debut was a collection of shorts back in 1988 - Facing The Music - which I've yet to read. Also the follow up Big Bad Love is one I hope to read soon. I'm on the hunt for anything by him in the used book shops of England & Wales...

Tobias Wolff is another favourite and I'd like to read more of his collections this coming year too. Others I have waiting on the TBR shelves at home include Andre Dubus, William Faulkner, S Y Agnon, and pretty much anything I can get by Sherman Alexie.

Dez 3, 2012, 4:39 pm

That is a GREAT idea, lkernagh, I'm going to suggest that for my library. Change is a mighty hard thing though at my local library, however, and I'm fairly certain they will have to meet about the meeting to schedule the meeting to decide it. So if I suggest it now, perhaps by 2018 or so, I'll be in business!

I will cop to thinking those photos are both quite lovely ...

Great suggestions all, I have no clue what to start with at this point! Oy. I'll figure it out!

Dez 3, 2012, 4:45 pm

I have a loooooong shelf of short story collections, but I'm not sure which of them might fit the "first-time authors' collections " and also be unread. Investigation will proceed forthwith.

Dez 3, 2012, 5:59 pm

>23 lkernagh: Lori, oh that's a good liberry then! One can see that as either attracting or warning the readers and still it makes everyone happy.

>24 Polaris-: Great, PolarisBeacon! Join in as and when you like. I'm not too much of a planner, either, at most I'll look a month ahead with purpose in my gaze. Beyond that, it's not likely to be a success.

>25 CarolynSchroeder: It's amazing what crowd-sourcing will lead to, eh what, Carolyn? Several years' reading in this thread already!

>26 laytonwoman3rd: Well, Linda3rd, if nothing fits those criteria, pull a collection off the shelf and read it no matter what. Any suggestions I make are just that, suggestions. I'd most like to see us talk about our short story author discoveries, rediscoveries, or what-have-you in this monthly thread.

Editado: Dez 3, 2012, 9:30 pm

Well, I can already make two recommendations of collections I've already read that deserve wide exposure: Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn and I Got Somebody in Staunton by William Henry Lewis. The first is a debut, the second is not. The links are to my reviews. And I'll put in another plug for G. W. Hawkes's Spies in the Blue Smoke, or Playing Out of the Deep Woods, if you can get your hands on either of them. (I've been pushing his stuff ever since I joined LT; he taught my daughter's first creative writing course at our mutual alma mater. The man is good.)

Edited to fix missing code.

Dez 3, 2012, 7:02 pm

Wow, it's really taking off over here! It's amazing how many of us are into the short story form. And I think it's becoming more popular year by year.

Thanks for kicking this off, RD!

Dez 3, 2012, 7:03 pm

Oooh Linda3rd you temptress you! I'd forgotten all about I Got Somebody in Staunton, and I even thumbs-upped your review way back when!

*sigh* I've requested it from my village liberry. *another gustier sigh*

Dez 3, 2012, 7:14 pm

Oh goody, goody I own Mrs. Somebody Somebody.

Dez 3, 2012, 7:32 pm

You know, someday you're going to meet a gorgeous older man, and when you find out he's straight, you'll be glad that you have me to send him to, instead of making him go mollynogging around on the streets.

Dez 3, 2012, 7:32 pm

Thanks Richard, this is a great idea. I don't read enough short stories but usually enjoy them when I do - especially satisfying when busy as you feel you have accomplished something!!

I have a few short story authors on my TBR list; Ferdinand von Schirach, Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne, NZ author Fiona Kidman, and Claire Keegan.

My sister bought me Seven New Zealand Novellas which I pick up every so often.

Dez 3, 2012, 7:55 pm

>31 brenzi: Perfect start!

>32 tloeffler: No I won't. I'll set about converting him, slowly and stealthily. It's what I've always done, so why change now?

+1 for use of cool new word

>33 FionaWh: Oh boy Fiona! I'm delighted to have another Kiwi in the fold!

Dez 3, 2012, 9:30 pm

#28 Somebody really should have mentioned that I screwed up the code in that post. Fixed it now.

Dez 3, 2012, 10:30 pm

#34 Thank you Richard. Enjoying the discussions and motivation :o)

Dez 4, 2012, 12:32 am

Expressing interest, I do manage to read a few collections through the year. I'll be choosing from my shelves and don't want to commit to anything in particular just yet.

Dez 4, 2012, 12:51 am

>35 laytonwoman3rd: It's all good.

>36 FionaWh: That's more or less the point...encouragement.

>37 avatiakh: Kerry! How wonderful! The structure doesn't require a commitment, just that you decide what you'd like to read and when. It's my hope you'll talk about it with the other folks around this, and the succeeding, thread(s).

Editado: Dez 4, 2012, 8:49 am

Richard, I'm in for this one. I regularly read short story collections, sometimes for a change, but even more when work gets busy and starts to interfere with my reading. There's a short story collection thread around here somewhere; I post now and then. I don't have time right now, but I'll come back soon and post a list of things on my shelf and suggestions for others of collections I've enjoyed. One that comes to mind immediately is If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black.

Dez 4, 2012, 9:29 am

Interesting books in your intro and nice range. I love short stories, but some of my favourite masters of the genre seem to be missing here: James Kelman, A L Kennedy, John Sayles, T C Boyle and Pinckney Benedict. Guess I will have to get reading and do some posting here!

Dez 4, 2012, 11:12 am

So, Richard, should we just post on this thread once we start or keep individual records on separate threads? What is your vision?

Dez 4, 2012, 11:33 am

>39 Cariola: Deborah! How great!! Let's see if we can't fire up some interest in this forum, since there are so many wonderful collections out there.

>40 SassyLassy: Welcome indeed, SassyLassy, and very happy to have another voice in the choir. There will be new threads each month, so suggestions and reviews and discussions all welcome.

>41 hemlokgang: Well, now, that's a thorny issue. The monthly threads, if even five or six participants a month are active, could get really crowded. Still...let's try posting reviews an having comments here for a while and see if it's workable. Folks without high-speed internet often find threads over ~250 posts too slow to load and stop participating. I don't want that to happen.

Dez 4, 2012, 12:07 pm

I think I misunderstood......monthly threads make a lot of sense!

Dez 4, 2012, 12:09 pm

Good! Let's see if monthlies will do the truck, at least at first.

If anyone's ready to go with their review of a collection, feel free. 2013 is more a convenience than a requirement in the reading challenge of getting at least a collection a month going.

Dez 4, 2012, 12:36 pm

Currently reading Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, a fascinating collection. If I finish soon, I will review.

Dez 4, 2012, 12:39 pm

Dez 4, 2012, 12:41 pm

I will check that out!

Dez 4, 2012, 12:49 pm

I have a number of short story collections on my provisional reading list for December - I've starred this thread so that I can list any I don't get to as possibles for January instead - and if I do manage to read any in December, I will try to tell you about them on here too.

Mostly in the past I have read short story collections by authors whose novels I already enjoy, rather than using them as a way to discover new authors. Perhaps that may change!

Dez 4, 2012, 3:51 pm

I'm a newbie to the group, but I see lots of familiar names here. After Richard invited me to participate in this challenge I looked at my paper and e-book libraries, and I found over 30 unread books. I plan to read at least one of them a month, although not all of them will be debut short story collections.

Here's my list of proposed reads:

Albert Camus, Exile and the Kingdom
Anton Chekhov, Lady with Lapdog and Other Stories
Anton Chekhov, The Witch and Other Stories
Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her
Assia Djebar, The Tongue's Blood Does Not Run Dry
Jessica Hagedorn, editor, Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction (I also own Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home in the World)
Ha Jin, Ocean of Words
Vincent Lam, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
Haruki Murakami, The Elephant Vanishes
Flannery O'Connor, The Complete Stories (I've read 19 of the 31 stories, in her previously released collections A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge within my Library of America copy of Flannery O'Connor: Collected Works)
Melissa Pritchard, The Odditorium: Stories
Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories
William Trevor, Selected Stories
Can Xue, Vertical Motion
Émile Zola, Four Short Stories

I'll probably read Lady with Lapdog and Other Stories and possibly Vertical Motion in January.

Dez 4, 2012, 6:13 pm

OMG, seriously! All the amazing suggestions! Wow. Cannot wait to start! So cool to see all the friendly "faces" too :)

Dez 4, 2012, 6:23 pm

>48 gennyt: Oh good Genny! I hope you'll get inspired and venture into some new territory.

>49 kidzdoc: Holey maloley what a list! I quail before its majesty! *quails*

>50 CarolynSchroeder: It's a regulation Old Home Week, isn't it Carolyn?

Dez 4, 2012, 6:54 pm

Darryl - I didn't even notice that Richard had enticed me to a new group!
Short story collections that I failed to read this year will be the first contenders for next year.

Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan (Ireland)
My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: great love stories - ed. Jeffrey Eugenides (US)
From under the overcoat by Sue Orr (NZ)
Selected stories of Patricia Highsmith by Patricia Highsmith

Black Glass: Short Fictions & What I Didn't See: Stories by Karen Joy Fowler

plus a few recent acquisitions that have me intrigued:

Hear us O Lord from Heaven thy dwelling place by Malcolm Lowry
yamanokevin's review led to adding Lowry's Lunar Caustic story
The Dragon and other stories by Yevgeny Zamyatin
The Penguin book of Russian short stories ed by David Richards - why does this bring up the touchstone Jane Eyre?

Dez 4, 2012, 7:00 pm

Welcome along Kerry! This is a dandy old group isn't it?

Well - I've already added four new books (and counting...) to the wishlist either directly or indirectly owing to this enticing thread, and I've been reminded of others I already knew I wanted to read. So something's definitely working and it aint even Christmas!

Dez 4, 2012, 7:06 pm

>52 avatiakh: It's astounding how many groups there are on LT and so many with no activity to speak of...why not get some of our 75er energy out there in the aether and ginger these forums up?

>53 Polaris-: *scribblescribblescribble* as the list gets longer is the most wonderful sound on LT, isn't it?

Dez 4, 2012, 7:09 pm

Good gracious Deborah! What a murderer's row of pitches that is! Terrific ideas, and thanks.

Dez 4, 2012, 7:16 pm

I'm only going to mention Things we didn't see coming by Steven Amsterdam and his follow up collection, What the family needed. He's an ex-New Yorker living in Melbourne and I really enjoyed these two books.

Dez 4, 2012, 7:34 pm

>57 Cariola: WOW. I am gobsmacked. Wonderful choices and so many of them!

>58 avatiakh: *whew* Two, I can handle....

Dez 4, 2012, 9:07 pm

Deborah - your lists alone are quite inspiring. I think I have the two Daphne du Maurier books.

#53: Hi Paul - I'm enjoying making myself comfortable here. Lots of good reading tips.

#49: Darryl - I've been meaning to read The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories since I first came across it on LT, I think it was CarlosMcRey in the 999 category challenge, he read a lot of interesting and obscure books.

Dez 5, 2012, 7:40 pm

Another one I found on Mount TBR and decided to start reading: A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies by John Murray. The first story was great.

Dez 8, 2012, 4:48 pm

Am sure we can make The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories fit the criteria as well .... can't we ?

Dez 8, 2012, 5:13 pm

I see the word "stories" is there...*thwap* Seal of Approval granted.

Dez 8, 2012, 6:39 pm

Technically speaking the Compendium is an anthology and not a collection :)

Dez 8, 2012, 9:57 pm

I ran through my list of fiction and came up with 81 short story books, almost all of them single-author collections, and quite a lot of them unread by their distracted owner. They range from the usual Russians to Barry Yourgrau's Wearing Dad's Head and Ian Frazier's Dating Your Mom. There are two novels I must read before January 8 - then let the short stories roll!

Dez 11, 2012, 10:24 am

Count me in!

Dez 11, 2012, 1:00 pm

Goody good good! More enthusiasm for stories makes me a happy lad.

Carolyn just finished a collection that sounded great. Of course now I can't remember the title, except it had to do with tropical butterflies, but it's in this week's What Are You Reading Now? thread.

Dez 11, 2012, 5:30 pm

Thanks for posting the title, Richard. My library has it and I just put it on hold. Whether I find time to read it is another thing but at least I'll get to test drive it. :)

Dez 11, 2012, 8:16 pm

Thanks Richard! I mentioned it on the other thread, but want to make sure to do so here, since all the folks here are going to be embarking on short stories soon. I'm giving away my copy of A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies as I'm an Eco-Pay-It-Forward kinda chick and very rarely keep hard copies of books. So I'm happy to pass this on to it's next literary loving home. It does have some annoying orange highlights in story one, as I got this at a used library book sale. Just drop me a note if anyone wants it. I send it media mail from work, so it's no worries $-wise. But some folks want to exchange for another to feel okay about it and that is fine too. Just drop me a note.

Dez 12, 2012, 12:37 pm

Dez 12, 2012, 12:47 pm

It's a wonderful collection, and I'm glad you liked it.

Dez 12, 2012, 1:29 pm

Just picked up The Final Martyrs by Shusaku Endo for my final read for the LT year long author theme read and found out that it is a collection of short stories. Who knew?

Dez 12, 2012, 1:32 pm

Serendipity! Don't you just love it?

Dez 12, 2012, 2:00 pm

Picked up gold boy, emerald girl when I was in the library the other day, and I like the sound of Women of Algiers so have added that to the list!

Dez 12, 2012, 4:14 pm

I just picked up Vladimir's Mustache by Stephan Erik Clark. His debut is a short fiction collection and is available for $3.99 on Kindle right now. I'm planning on reading it right after the holidays.

"Elegant, classic stories that sift through history and paint a luminous portrait of an enduring cast of Russian characters. Clark is marvelously protean here, engaging multiple personalities and points of view, and his cold eye and ready wit shine through brilliantly. -- T.C. Boyle"

Dez 12, 2012, 4:57 pm

I've picked up a book that has been on my shelf a long time, and on other people's shelves before that, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by a guy named Rust Hills. It's from 1977, yellowed and falling apart, but I thought to read it before January to sort of gin up my short story analysis muscles. Every once in a while, Hills lets his wicked side show. For instance, talking about the reliance on cliffhanger suspense, he writes:

"These are the sort of books of which publishers say "Once you pick it up, you can't put it down," and one of the major reasons you don't want to put it down is that you don't want ever to have to pick it up again. You want to get to the end of a book like that and get rid of it, once and for all....Also, it strains the eyes and gives you headaches."

Dez 12, 2012, 11:06 pm

7 I just finished The Miniature Wife about a week ago - 3 1/2 star read for me, but I loved his "meritorious life" stories which were encyclopedia entries for people who never lived in worlds that never actually existed or doing things that never did quite happen that way.

I'm reading my next ER book Errantry by Elizabeth Hand who is a well-established science fiction/fantasy writer. The stories are atmospherically dense, steeped in the sf&f community, but not actually typical of the genre. Beautifully done so far.

Thanks to psutto, I'm also reading Weird: Compendium but since it is over 1200 pages of stories I don't intend to finish it this year or even the next.

Dez 12, 2012, 11:20 pm

>78 cammykitty: cammykitty, I've only read one Hand book, and that one 20 years ago. Her prose in Waking the Moon wasn't all I wished it would be, though the story was terrific and inventive.

Have you read Waking the Moon? Is the prose in her stories broadly similar?

Dez 13, 2012, 12:12 am

You've reeled me in with We Are What We Pretend To Be, Richard. How had I missed it?? Now requested from the library.

I'm terrible at planning my reading but I do have several unread Alice Munro books, as well as Ship Fever on my shelves.

Maybe this group will help me get going on them!

Dez 13, 2012, 2:08 am

Ship Fever was my first Andrea Barrett, and became the first of many wonderful reads. Hope you enjoy it, coppers!

Dez 13, 2012, 3:28 pm

Oh good, Joanne! Glad you're going to make the 2013 journey with us! Short story collections tend to build up on people's shelves and not get read. I want to make a dent in that, for myself and hoping to do so for others, too.

Dez 13, 2012, 4:12 pm

80 and 81 I've got Ship Fever too. Have no idea when I'll get to it. Flashier books keep jumping in the way.

79 Richard, this is the first I've ever read of Elizabeth Hand although I've heard a lot of talk about her for the last ten or more years. I'm hoping she's honed her skills in that amount of time! I'm guessing she erred on the wordy side in the past. Lately, she's been getting attention for writing some very dark YA - which I find ironic because Errantry is obviously for a middle age+ audience. A lot of the stories are focussed on people at the end of their careers or lives.

Editado: Dez 15, 2012, 8:38 am

I realized I'm still a bit early on the whole gig, but am now reading Best American Short Stories 2007 and liking them very much (starting story four). I am being introduced to many authors I simply did not know, old and new, and there are a few from my old favorite authors as well, e.g., T.C. Boyle and Richard Russo.

Editado: Dez 15, 2012, 4:36 pm

Count another one in! Will be starting the year with Volt (only intended to add it to my list, but accidentally put it on hold instead - here we go!) (Why on Earth does the default touchstone go to Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff?!)

Must confess, have always kinda thought of short stories as teacherly conveniences: enough to open our eyes, without having to put up with our bellyaching for a whole month about a book we don't like. In truth, I enjoyed much of what they did assign; matter of fact, we had to read an excerpt from The Lost Salt Gift of Blood as part of our English 12 final (six hours, 50% of final grade, go!), and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in the gymnasium who was thinking "this is good, I'll have to get back to it someday!" As it turns out, it's a short story collection. Thank you for bringing it out of the shadows, Richard!

Editado: Dez 16, 2012, 5:35 pm

I'm planning on Vampyre and Other Macabre Tales and possibly In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu.

Dez 17, 2012, 11:18 am

Tanglewood, I also have those Folio Society editions and they were on my list of choices. Let me know which one you're reading first and I'll see if I can read it at the same time.

Dez 18, 2012, 6:09 am

> 87 LucasTrask, great! I'm going to start with Vampyre and Other Macabre Tales first for January. Did you pick up The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories too?

Dez 18, 2012, 1:35 pm

>88 Tanglewood: Ok, I,ll start with it as well. Yes, I also bought The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories.

Dez 18, 2012, 8:51 pm

86 I've got In a Glass Darkly on my nook. It came in a huge 99 cent collection of horror classics. Le Fanu is great, so I'll look forward to your comments and maybe we can even do a tandem read.

@89 A few of us have been talking about a tandem/trio/small group read of The Bloody Chamber in June. Let us know if you're interested.

I've finished Errantry by Elizabeth Hand. This collection of short stories ran hot and cold, and I think it would've benefited by slow reading, meaning a story every few weeks. Since it was an ER book, I read a story or two a day. Some of the unusual words or images she used were repeated from story to story, and that got annoying. I never would've noticed if I had left more time between stories.

This collection is "interstitial." "Interstitial" was a small movement within the fantasy/science fiction community. Works that are interstitial often combine genres. They are subtle. The fantasy element may be used more as symbolism than as a plot element. I'm wavering between giving the book three stars and three and a half stars. In general, the collection was quiet and death-centric. Some of the stories were thought provoking and beautiful, but some of them didn't go beyond the banal or the beautifully imagistic. I'd recommend this collection for people who like poetry mixed in with their fantasy, and don't expect magic to shake the earth.

Dez 18, 2012, 11:23 pm

On balance, cammykitty, I say "not for me" to Errantry and kudos to you for that thoughtful, helpful review.

Dez 20, 2012, 8:52 am

I just finished The Best American Short Stories 2007 last night and except for Karen Russell's story St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised by Wolves (which I had to apply a Mini Pearl Rule too and jump ship at page 3 - just terrible - but I don't really "get" her stories, I think, despite some interesting writing/talent - but others love her, and the media/writing community clearly does - so don't mind me), these stories were all outstanding. Each one made me either think, laugh, wonder or just have moment of pause about life, in some capacity or another. Also, having never before read a "best of" type short story collection, truly enjoyed the process, how Stephen King picked the stories, where they first were published and mostly, the bios of the authors, all of whom describe their impetus for the story selected. So I learned about some new writers I never, ever would have known about otherwise. Highly recommended.

Dez 20, 2012, 11:30 am

92> I am with you on Russell. I read the entire collection (St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves), just to see what all the fuss was about, but I am just n ot into magical realism or fantasy.

Dez 20, 2012, 11:51 am

>92 CarolynSchroeder:, 93 Deborah, I *am* a magical-realism fan in most cases (just not majgickq a la fantasy novels), but I read the whole collection back in the days when something I rated lower than 3 stars simply got ignored. I gave it, mentally, about a 2.25* yawn of a thought.

Carolyn, the Best American series is pretty good all the way around, and has led me down several enjoyable garden paths.

Dez 20, 2012, 12:29 pm

What a great idea! I love to read short story collections every now and then to break up the big books I read most of the time. I read several collections this year and probably read anywhere from 3 to 5 collections every year. But it will be great to get some recommendations and to share some book reviews. It will also be a great inspiration. Although I participate in Nanowrimo every year I much prefer writing short stories, perhaps because I spent a great deal of time writing and reading short stories in college. I feel I have a much greater understanding of their structure, and can bring a story right through to its ending, where a novel is still quite daunting. I can think in terms of the story as a whole before I even write it, and feel a great enjoyment while reading them that comes from sensing and understanding the components that make it up as well as the writing itself. Does that make sense, I hope? I don't always experience that with novellas and novels. It is comparable I think to reading and executing a recipe when you understand how the different ingredients work to create the final product. Like carmelizing, or creating a roux or the way yeast makes bread rise. Something about understanding the process makes reading short stories very appealing to me. Alot of great ideas above, and the best part is that most of them are not familiar although the authors are, which can only point to how very many collections we will have to choose from. YaY!

Dez 20, 2012, 12:39 pm

Happy to see you, Mary Beth! Yeah, there are a zillion story collections and anthologies available. Everyone's suggesting a few...what are your ideas?

Dez 20, 2012, 6:27 pm

Just picked up Volt by Alan Heathcock and 420 Characters by Lou Beach from my library! All set for 2013!

Dez 20, 2012, 8:39 pm

*cues William Tell Overture*

...aaannnddd we're OFF!

Dez 21, 2012, 9:13 am

Mmingnano!!! Welcome - fellow writer here! I too am finding reading short stories helps the craft, and how. I'm already bursting with ideas and such from the few I have read here at the end of this year. My fiction writing professor swore by short stories (although he also said my voracious reading appetite for novels and non fiction put me ahead of most writers too) in learning. KEEP READING was his advice, along with KEEP WRITING. Yes, always in capitals. So I follow that simple advice!

Dez 21, 2012, 9:13 am

WAIT! What??? Don't we wait for New Year's Eve, at least? I've got novels to read on deadline! I wasn't even in the starting gate! Wait for me!!!!!

Dez 21, 2012, 9:43 am

ffortsa ~ I was just excited to start reading short stories, so I have already read a volume. It's not like an official thing, just reading them because of enjoyment and sharing what I find. But I will definitely read one a month starting 2013 too :) Holding hand out ... we are all good!

Dez 21, 2012, 11:39 am

Hmmm...this presents an interesting, and to me unanticipated, point.

Many, even most, people are spoiler-averse, some to the point of mania. I'm not, I don't care. BUT...if we stick with my original proposal of one thread for the month and try posting reviews here too...spoilers are guaranteed, and that will make some folks unlikely to be happy and therefore keep coming.

May I propose this? When you want to review a collection, whether someone is reading it with you or not, maybe start a thread here in Short Stories with the collection title as the thread title? It should be clearly understood that, within reviews, spoilers are to be expected and if one is severely allergic to them confine one's thread-reading to the monthly discussion.

Is that workable?

Dez 21, 2012, 12:14 pm

It is workable. Will do! I'm very, very flexible and accommodating. Whatever works is good by me. I'll save up any reviews or the like for January!

Dez 21, 2012, 12:17 pm

>103 CarolynSchroeder: Part of the beauty of the thread-hopping system, as I see it, is that you should then be able to review stuff as fast as you read it, and no fear of causing unpleasant side effects. Discussions and ideas then have multiple homes! That always makes me happier than having to watch myself.

Dez 21, 2012, 1:48 pm

Excellent idea, sir. And what will be your first volume of the year?

Dez 21, 2012, 1:50 pm

I don't know until I finish one...there are five on the trot ATM. If I had to *guess* it'll be Better Living Through Plastic Explosives since it's due first.

Editado: Dez 21, 2012, 2:49 pm

From my TBR, I'm thinking of starting with Alice Adams' first set of short stories To See You Again.

Oops. LT doesn't have Beautiful Girl on the list on her author's page, at least not in order. I'll have to check if have that one.

Whew. I have that one too, also marked TBR.

Dez 22, 2012, 9:14 am

Reading Best American Short Stories 1990 from Mount TBR.

Dez 23, 2012, 1:36 am

Good review on Endo - Thanks!

Dez 23, 2012, 2:29 am

>109 hemlokgang: Reinforces my lack of desire to read Endo. Thanks for that concise review!

Dez 23, 2012, 2:49 am

I thought Silence and Scandal were excellent....well worth reading!

Dez 26, 2012, 6:55 pm

I got an early start, reading Better Living Through Plastic Explosives and posting my review of it too.

Gave it a cumulative score of 3.5 stars.

Dez 26, 2012, 9:15 pm

I'm not quite finished but I'm reading a terrific collection---Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn. Think bonnie Jo Campbell gritty.

Dez 27, 2012, 8:30 am

I am a bit over half-way into The Best American Short Stories 1990 and really enjoying it. I don't think it's quite as strong as the last "Best Of" I read recently, which was 2007, but many of these are excellent. I love the books in these series and will try to read as many as I can. But for our threads here, I will branching out soon.

An idea to toss out to our Short Story peeps here. My Mom just finished Summer Lies by Bernard Schlink and said it was an outstanding collection.

Dez 27, 2012, 8:38 am

I am in the midst of the beautiful Dear Life. Unlikely to finish before 2013 begins, so it will be my January read. I am also reading Building Stories, so likely I sill have two SS reads for January.

I have vowed to purchase NO books in January, but I have plenty of collections to choose from going forward.

Dez 27, 2012, 7:23 pm

>116 alphaorder: I have vowed to purchase NO books in January Haha is that a New Year's resolution Nancy? Good luck keeping it LOL.

I finished and REVIEWED Tracy Winn's powerful collection Mrs. Somebody Somebody. This one will make my Top Reads in 2012 list.

Dez 27, 2012, 7:26 pm

That's an amazing review, Bonnie, what a collection that must be. My liberry even has it. *sigh*

Dez 27, 2012, 8:22 pm

#118 So GET it. I agree, it was amazing.

Dez 27, 2012, 10:06 pm

You're not helping, Bonnie, with that review. Wishlisted, but I vow not to buy in January...

Dez 27, 2012, 10:15 pm

>120 alphaorder: *snickers quietly up his sleeve*

Dez 27, 2012, 10:22 pm

I am telling you, I am going to do it, if I don't meet any of my other 2013 goals. Just because y'all don't believe I can (that is ok- I am with you - I don't really think I can either, but I am darn well going to try.) Marked my calendar for feb 1 to post of my success (or failure).

Dez 27, 2012, 10:24 pm

Wait until you read my review of Volt....

Dez 28, 2012, 3:01 am

#122 I'm sure you can!! ..... not helping Richard lol !

I don't buy many books as I support our Library but I must admit I find it hard to not just keep adding books to my TBR list - just added Mrs Somebody Somebody.

I have Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and My First Colouring Book ready to go for 2013 short stories. I have started Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and like what I have read so far.

Dez 28, 2012, 6:32 am

((alphaorder)) ... I have faith in you! FWIW ~ my library (which is no great shakes) has had pretty much every book talked of on this thread. So hopefully, you can take many lovely detours without purchasing any new books!

Finished Best American Short Stories 1990 and will put up a review. I loved it, in great part, a couple of so-so ones in there, but no duds. It was an interesting, if not a bit sad, trip down memory lane, the end of the '80s, all the drugs, birth of the oppulance of materialism, AIDS epidemic, "professional women" having a hard go of it and the like. Not really an uplifting collection, per se, but not horribly depressing either. Again, the important thing, it introduced me to some really talented authors, a few of whom I did not know.

Dez 28, 2012, 7:42 am


Thanks for alerting me to what looks like an excellent collection I will love!

Dez 28, 2012, 8:10 am

>124 FionaWh:: Lucky for me, I bought Gold Boy, Emerald Girl 2 years ago. I love Yiyun Li's work.

It is was of the 445 books in my house that I haven't read. So I can read it with you in January, no worries. I had already assigned it to books I might want to read in 2013. I went through my TBR and picked out books I had been hoping to read, just to make myself feel better. Actually, i was almost like shopping in a bookstore, but didn't cost me a thing!

Dez 28, 2012, 10:18 am

124, 127> That's the one I also plan to start with.

Dez 28, 2012, 10:22 pm

>127 alphaorder: I went through my TBR and picked out books I had been hoping to read, just to make myself feel better. Actually, i was almost like shopping in a bookstore, but didn't cost me a thing!

Don't you just love to do that Nancy? I have about the same number of unread books as you do and we recently finished painting a spare room and putting up enough bookshelves to get all my books in one room and I absolutely love it. It's very much like being in a library:-)

Dez 28, 2012, 11:07 pm

I love "shopping" my home "book store"!

Jan 1, 2013, 7:38 pm

Finished The Girl Who Played with Fire this morning, having been glued to it for the last few days, so can now get back to Gold Boy Emerald Girl as my first short stories collection for 2013.

Jan 2, 2013, 6:10 am

>131 FionaWh: - Thanks so much for bringing Gold Boy, Emerald Girl to my attention. As an arborist I was initially attracted by the striking Ginkgo leaf images on the cover, and then I did a little research and discover that this looks like exactly the sort of short form writing from a previously (to me) unknown source that I like to discover on LT. So thanks again! Now I just need to decide between the 3 arboreal cover images to choose from...

Jan 3, 2013, 8:34 am

I am reading for January Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story. There are twenty short stories, each one is chosen and introduced by a different author. The introductions are short and interesting, chatting about the art of the short story, technique, craft and writing. Only the one Denis Johnson story had I read in The Best American Short Stories 1990 (Car Crash While Hitchhiking).

The introduction sums it up best:

"Our hope is that this collection will be useful to young writers, and to others interested in literary technique. Most of all, it is intended for readers who are not (or are no longer) in the habit of reading short stories. We hope these object lessons will remind them how varied the form can be, how vital it remains, and how much pleasure it can give."

Jan 3, 2013, 10:06 am

I am rereading Think like a Dinosaur

Jan 3, 2013, 3:48 pm

#132 My cover version of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (library book) is the snow covered orchard and it is quite beautiful.

Jan 3, 2013, 4:03 pm

>133 CarolynSchroeder: That sounds like a good place to start.

Jan 3, 2013, 7:52 pm

WOW - that (paper?) cover for Gold Boy. Emerald Girl is really different.

Jan 3, 2013, 8:03 pm

>131 FionaWh:, 132, 135, 137 Those covers are all arresting images. Beautiful!

>133 CarolynSchroeder:, 136 That does sound like the best way to kick off a challenge...acquire background.

>134 AnnieMod: That sounds like something fun and light-hearted to start the year with.

Jan 3, 2013, 8:04 pm

I need to write my review of Volt here pretty soon.

Jan 4, 2013, 3:12 am

I haven't officially joined this group but am hoping I can just jump in with this from my thread...

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, editors

This collection of stories was a revelation to me. I had no idea there was a genre known as "slipstream" until I picked up this book. Works in this category are variously described as filling the spaces between fantasy, science fiction, and literary fiction or as works that leave the reader feeling strange or disconnected from reality. They're less scientific than science fiction, less fantastical than fantasy, less horrific than horror stories. In short, it's much easier to say what they aren't than what they are. The editors of this collection argue for viewing slipstream as more of a literary effect than a genre. I'm still trying to get it clear in my own mind. There is a helpful list of slipstream works here.

I'm not generally a short story reader but I enjoyed this collection very much. I would say my favorites (or should I say, the two that made me feel most strange?) were "Biographical Notes to 'A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-planes,' by Benjamin Rosenbaum" by Benjamin Rosenbaum and "The God of Dark Laughter" by Michael Chabon.

Editado: Jan 4, 2013, 10:28 am

Well, my 2013 reading (picked a real dog over in What Are You Reading Now - for my library program) is off to a bumpy start and Object Lessons: The Paris Review presents The Art of the Short Story is really not that good. The stories are rather so-so (surprisingly, considering the mountains of PRs they had to choose from), but I am learning a small tidbit here or there, and how difficult it really is to create a memorable short story (in plot, character, craft, etc.). But so far, most of the people are just so darn odious. Ah well, learned about Jane Bowles, who is fascinating and her story was excellent. Onward and upward (hopefully!) ...

Jan 4, 2013, 11:29 am

>140 muddy21: Formal membership not needed, and I'm very glad to see you here. I'm not well-read in slipstream works. This looks like a very good way to dip my toe into the waters. Thanks!

>141 CarolynSchroeder: Mediocre stuff from the Paris Review! Of course it's there, but really?! Sixty years of more good than mediocre, and they couldn't stick to the best? Sounds like rights issues to me.

Sorry that this hasn't been a more uniformly positive experience, Carolyn.

Jan 4, 2013, 11:46 am

Does anyone have one of those "Best Short Stories of *insert year here*" to recommend?

Jan 4, 2013, 11:53 am

Actually, Richard, I started the short stories with a bang (granted, in 2012) and had two 5-star reads back to back in The Best American Short Stories 2007 and A Few Short Notes On Tropical Butterflies. I also read The Best American Short Stories 1990 and would give that a very solid 4-stars (just haven't had a moment to review). Some truly outstanding stories in all three of those books. So overall, I'm more up than down.

I think Paris Review is kinda spotty, especially lately. I've been getting it for a little over a year and there is a lot of ho hum. Some of these stories are from the rather "experimental" realm of the 60s and well, I guess that was important, but not necessarily great reading. As an aside, I think the artwork in PR is borderline terrible! Love those interviews tho!

So I've branched out into some other literary/story journals and will add them to my list here. One is called Glimmer Train Stories. So in a way, I believe that a group like this that pushes me to discover is actually a wonderful thing. So no worries. How else do we know what is great if everything is great? Gotta dig around in the dirt a bit to find the gems :)

Jan 4, 2013, 11:58 am

>143 EBT1002: Carolyn just did, Ellen, in post 144.

>144 CarolynSchroeder: Glimmer Train is pretty consistent, and usually consistently good. I'd suggest Tin House as well, and also TriQuarterly.

Editado: Jan 4, 2013, 3:08 pm

I have finished Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and as usual with short stories was left wanting more .... I just want to know what happened to the characters next!

Reading Nothing to Envy; Ordinary Lives in North Korea (which was a five star book for me) last year, helped me associate with the Chinese/Korean way of thinking re family expectations etc. Great read! Will post a review later.

Mucked up completely with my next short stories choice. In a hurry (hate that in the library) I grabbed Lloyd Jones', My First Colouring Book thinking it was by the NZ author. Not so, he is Welsh; attempted the book but sorry not me, so will go back to my next novel until I can get back to the library for another short story collection.

Jan 4, 2013, 3:15 pm

@140 Glad to see your comments on Feeling Very Strange. That is one of the oldest entries on my WL. I thought about buying it yesterday but still haven't.

I'm partway through Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr. I wasn't impressed with the first one or two stories that I read, but by the time I got to The Women Men Don't See, I was blown away. No wonder there's an award named after her.

Jan 4, 2013, 3:29 pm

>146 FionaWh: I'd say that's a vote of confidence in Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, then...wanting more is better, IMO, than wanting it to be over.

>147 cammykitty: I am so with you on Tiptree/Alice Sheldon!

Jan 4, 2013, 3:41 pm

I am about to read Get off the Unicorn by Anne McCaffrey.

Jan 4, 2013, 4:38 pm

Anyone else read Object Lessons yet? I had mostly heard rave reviews and looking forward to it, but now I am not so sure.

Editado: Jan 4, 2013, 4:56 pm

150-Alphaorder - I am reading Object Lessons: Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story ... scroll up a bit. So far, it is so-so mostly, with a couple very good stories. I have read 9 out of the 20. Although, maybe you are talking about the one by Anna Quindlen?

Editado: Jan 4, 2013, 5:01 pm

>149 ccookie: That's an oldie but a goodie. Hope you'll enjoy it!

>150 alphaorder: Heh. I can understand wavering at this point. It's gone way way way down my list of TBRs.

>151 CarolynSchroeder: Never thought of the Quindlen! It's a novel, though.

Jan 4, 2013, 6:39 pm

Nope I meant the Paris review collection. I saw it on some best of lists, not so much on LT, but in publications.

Jan 4, 2013, 6:54 pm

>147 cammykitty: cammykitty - if you'd like to have my copy of Feeling Very Strange send me a pm with your mailing info and I'll be happy to send it along. It was a discard from the library where I work. I'm glad I read it but I'm not particularly attached to it and I'm making an effort to thin the ranks of at least the books piled on the floor (vs the ones on the shelves) this year.

Jan 5, 2013, 7:32 am

153 ~ I don't know, I'm having a bugger of a time with Object Lessons: Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story ... most of them are from the 1960s, it seems, and oy, they are all just so incredibly weird. I'm hoping story 11 and onward will improve. I am not sure why this is getting rave reviews, if it is, it is decidedly mediocre. I don't even think the introductory stuff by different authors is all that great. It feels like they had an assignmet to complete, so did. But I will write a proper review when I finish (which I will as it's for my library's Winter Reading Program too).

Jan 5, 2013, 12:36 pm

154 - Moving it down the pile then. Might not even read in 2013. I have plenty of other outstanding collections waiting for me.

Jan 6, 2013, 1:29 am

Yep, if I can lay my hands on the 2007 edition, sounds like a possible winner. Thanks Carolyn (and Richard).

Jan 7, 2013, 9:03 am

EBT ~ I got the 2007 "Best of" at a library book sale for a dollar! That is a good place to find old(er) editions of the Best Of types of collections. Okay, Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story is picking up at the eleventh hour. I think there will be a one to a few great stories, and the rest rather terrible. A real standout: Ethan Canin's "The Palace Thief" - which I learned was made into a movie (different name I cannot recall)? I have not read anything by him in a while, but that 50 pager short story sure makes me want to. Very good writer. Lots and lots of food for thought in this story. I keep thinking about it.

Jan 7, 2013, 9:05 pm

I picked up Dear Husband by Joyce Carol Oates at the library this morning.....

Jan 8, 2013, 3:27 pm

I've finally reviewed Volt: Stories, and let me just say that it's a wonderful, wonderful collection of harsh, visceral, and amazingly well-made stories. I rank it up there with Knockemstiff.

Please go read all about it in my thread. I'm reeling.

>158 CarolynSchroeder: One or two out of twenty? I'd be right good and mad about now!

>159 FionaWh: Completely unfamiliar title, so I'm looking forward to hearing about it Fiona!

Jan 8, 2013, 4:42 pm

Oh Richard, Volt: Stories looks awesome! Will pop that on the Febraury list! It is a very short loan @ my library because it's new, so I will have to re-check it out.

Jan 8, 2013, 6:06 pm

Go! Go soon! Please. It's such a knockout!

Jan 9, 2013, 1:00 am

*putting Volt: Stories on hold at the library*

Jan 9, 2013, 1:17 pm

>162 richardderus: Yay! And it's even, probably, set in your state's eastern scary part, Ellen. The author's a native Idahovian. Or whatever.

Editado: Jan 10, 2013, 11:55 am

I finished Gold Boy, Emerald Girl--a beautiful collection. My review is posted on the book's page and will be going up on my 75 Challenge thread as well.

(Thought about starting another thread for this group, but that would make three, with Club Read and the 75ers. Richard seems to be the only one to have started a new personal thread here.)

Jan 10, 2013, 3:15 pm

Just started Dear Husband, two stories in. I think this will be good.

#165 I thought Gold Boy, Emerald Girl was a lovely collection too.

Jan 10, 2013, 3:58 pm

>165 Cariola: If you are looking for the funny or uplifting, you won't find it here. But Li is clearly in touch with the human heart, and these stories have a depth and beauty that will resonate long after you finish reading them.

Beautifully said!

I think this is a casual group read, less structured and more self-directed than others. It's not necessary to make a thread. I felt it would facilitate discussion of our various choices, but it seems not to have that effect. It works how it works! I myownself don't like feeling boxed in by someone's desired use of group space, so I like to let it develop into what we all want it to be.

Jan 10, 2013, 4:41 pm

> 163 "*putting Volt: Stories on hold at the library*"
Me Too!

Jan 10, 2013, 6:06 pm

167> Okey dokey, Richard. No rules is good! I like to post my reviews on the book's page, and I copy them to the 75er thread and Club read. Seemed a bit redundant to do it again here, especially since a lot of the same folks are here as there.

Jan 10, 2013, 7:17 pm

I think links to reviews are awesome. Many of you are reading books I've not heard of, so it is really wonderful to see if you enjoyed them (or not). Great review of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, Cariola!

Jan 10, 2013, 7:21 pm

170> Thank you, Caroline! It was a truly lovely collection, and I will be looking for more of her work.

Jan 10, 2013, 9:17 pm

>168 ccookie: Oh goody good, Cathy! I hope it works for you.

>169 Cariola: Aha...I'm not posting my short story collection reviews in the 75ers, only here. I'm trying out a way to keep categories I'm less likely to read deeply in at the forefront of my reading.

>170 CarolynSchroeder: I use links all the time, Carolyn, as I know you know, because there's really no need to post the same thing three or more different places when a link is so much shorter.

Jan 11, 2013, 10:44 am

RD - My first of, hopefully, 13 short story collections started with one of the more celebrated ones:

A Good Man is Hard to Find

This landmark collection by Flannery O'Connor trawls through in ten parts man's basic inhumanity to man. Prejudice, ignorance and base dastardly behaviour permeate every scene and story. The landscapes are the american deep south where the corollary is that money breeds contempt, white trash are poor and the "niggers" are barely human. She shows this up clearly and unforgivingly in her stories but the words grate upon modern sensibilities nonetheless.

Not all the stories are as successful as others : I would have happily edited out "A Temple of the Holy Ghost" for example, but when she strikes pay dirt is well and truly realised.
In "The Artificial Nigger" a grandfather and his grandson are visiting the big city and the grandfather is irritated by the glibness of the young man's responses always seemingly having an answer. They strike on the subject of race and the young man is adamant they he has indeed come across many black people before. Then on the train into town:

A huge coffee-colored man was coming slowly forward............Mr. Head's grip on Nelson's arm loosened: "What was that?," he asked. "A man," the boy said........."That was a nigger," Mr. Head said and sat back.....The boy slid down into the seat. "You said they were black," he said in an angry voice. "You never said they were tan. How do you expect me to know anything when you don't tell me right." "You're just ignorant is all," Mr. Head said...."

I will find myself dipping into this collection for some of the nuggets to be scraped from the river bed of her observations. On religion in the concluding story "The Displaced Person" she muses in the guise of the lead character:

....she felt that religion was essentially for those people who didn't have the brains to avoid evil without it. For people like herself, for people of gumption, it was a special occasion providing the opportunity to sing.


BTW I hope my addition to your short story collection arrives some time soon.

Jan 11, 2013, 10:58 am

>173 PaulCranswick: Oh yes, Paul, that's one of my happy reading memories! I'm glad you liked it, too, and have thumbs-upped your review.

Oh boy I'm getting a book! Thank you, and I will let you know as soon as it arrives.

Jan 11, 2013, 1:48 pm

The Angel Esmerelda, by Don Delillo

Jan 11, 2013, 4:56 pm

Awesome review Paul! Really vivid! Thanks for taking the time!

Jan 11, 2013, 10:44 pm

>175 tcw: I've never heard of The Angel Esmeralda, tcw, so I hope you'll come and tell us a bit about it and how it affected you.

Jan 12, 2013, 5:32 am

hi :)

just finished last night Souvenir and three more not-quite-straightforward tales by Daniel Kelly
I do not read a lot of short stories, I like to get attached and live with my book for a while :P, but I liked this one.
I reviewed it and was shocked to see how somebody got the whole book wrong - from start to finish - but I guess they did not actually read it before reviewing it.

Anyway, I gave it 4 stars because it left me feeling pleased and content :)

Jan 12, 2013, 6:15 am

Ended up reading Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry (just handy when I finished my previous book). I'll be writing a review over the weekend but... interesting. I don't think I've ever read anything by the author before and he is highly readable if a bit depressing occasionally.

Jan 12, 2013, 8:24 am

173> my book club read it this year. The stories resulted in one of the most enjoyable book talks ever! Enjoy!

Jan 12, 2013, 11:18 am

>178 tigerlyly: Hi Liliana! Glad you liked the Kelley collection so much. I've never read anything by him. Might be a good place to start, huh?

>179 AnnieMod: I'll look forward to your review, Annie. Readable but depressing? Hm.

Jan 12, 2013, 11:29 am

I'll be taking a break from short stories to read a book I've really been looking forward to: Merivel by Rose Tremain. So far, it's quite wonderful!

Jan 12, 2013, 11:44 am

>181 richardderus: just be patient with the first one, it's not bad... it sets you up for a Twilight Zone feeling, by the end I got a different kind of vibe.

Jan 13, 2013, 12:47 am

I picked up Mumbai Noir at the library today. Hope it will kick-start my short story reading for the year!

Jan 13, 2013, 9:24 am

Okay, I have to ask this. Anyone have any suggestions for relatively uplifting short story collections? I know the two do not really go hand in hand, but figured I would ask. It's a wee cold, dark and such here in the Chicago area and my last few (dozen) reads, with a couple of exceptions, have been rather grim. So open to ideas! I don't have to be skipping into the clouds, but a minimal of death, suicide, and cruelty to others would be a mighty nice reprieve.

Editado: Jan 13, 2013, 9:55 am

185> One I'd recommend would be Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories by Joan Silber. It's the first work of hers I ever read and the one that made me look for more. The title is deceptive; don't expect a heavily religious or Oprah-type feel-good collection. The spirituality moving through these stories is found between the characters, and any type of 'salvation' or heaven is found in human love and connection. The stories certainly aren't what I'd call humorous, and not all of them end happily; but taken as a whole--and the stories are interconnected--I found it quite uplifting.

The Deportees and Other Stories by Roddy Doyle. A few of the stories are downers, but others are downright hilarious. They are all about the 'new Ireland' and the immigrants that have started to come in since the '90s.

If you've never read Dubliners, that's definitely one for this list, although several are bittersweet.

Jan 13, 2013, 11:11 am

>185 CarolynSchroeder: To add to Deborah's excellent suggestions, I'd put in Love Among the Greats, which I've reviewed, and recommend heartily to anyone needing a respite from gloom.

Also undepressing plus bonus thought-provoking, 420 Characters by Lou Beach. I'm really really intrigued by the idea, but the stories themselves are delicious.

Jan 13, 2013, 1:18 pm

So, short stories tend to be depressing, and the uplifting ones are exceptions? Oh, dear: what did I sign up for? I hope my experience is different!

Finished reading my first short story collection of the year, Volt, which... I tried very hard to like, but... just not my thing, I guess. I didn't really connect with it. Still glad to have read it, though, after everyone else's raves.

For February: have got Women of Algiers in their Apartment on order, but it might not arrive in time... in which case my backup plan is Tell Me a Riddle, from Richard's wonderful recommendation over on the "What are you Reading Now?" thread. Very much looking forward to it!

Jan 13, 2013, 1:29 pm

Weeelllll, Heduanna, Tell Me A Riddle is in no smallest sense a feel-good kind of a read. Very much in the social-realism vein, and not cheery.

Volt: Stories is, however, orders of magnitude grimmer than the Olsen. I hope it works out for you!

Jan 13, 2013, 1:55 pm

#185 Carolyn, I have only just started Dear Husband by Joyce carol Oates, and it seems to be a bit of a mixture - more about relationships and hopefully not too grim.

Jan 13, 2013, 2:37 pm

Oh boy. I'm also glad to get the recommendations for upbeat-ish short story collections! Thanks y'all!

Jan 13, 2013, 9:36 pm

I've reviewed the quirky, wonderful stories in 420 Characters: Stories over in my #15.

First appearing on Facebook, they're all marvels of concise, lovely language telling fractions and fractals of stories we might never know, or never forget.

Jan 14, 2013, 9:30 pm

Anyone read or heard about Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlife? I read the first one (about 3 pages) standing in the bookshop and almost purchased it for this group challenge. It made me laugh out loud. I might have to go back and buy it.

Jan 15, 2013, 8:08 am

The 2012 Finalists for The Story Prize Are Dan Chaon, Junot Díaz, and Claire Vaye Watkins

Jan 15, 2013, 8:22 am

Oh my, AlphaOrder! Thank you for that link!

I am reading my Early Reviewer book (which is NF and excellent), but have also started 420 Characters by Lou Beach and am loving it so far. Thanks guys/gals so much for the uplifting short story collections suggestions. I had a bit of a hard time finding most of them @ my library (trying to cut down costs this year, and borrow as much as possible), but did find 420 Characters.

Jan 15, 2013, 10:44 am

194> Thanks for the link. I've had This is How You Lose Her on hold at the library for a while (trying to save a bit of money, just like Carolyn) and have now added Stay Awake and Battleborn.

Editado: Jan 15, 2013, 11:56 am

>193 EBT1002: That's a new one on me, Ellen, so I'll look forward to hearing more about it!

>194 alphaorder: Thank you many times, AO, for that link! I think the Story Prize is underheralded. I haven't read any of the collections, have you? Anybody else?

>195 CarolynSchroeder: Oh boy, Carolyn, I sure hope 420 Characters: Stories will appeal as much as it did to me.

ETA that's what happens when you don't press "enter" before walking the dog...I don't remember your review of This is How You Lose Her, Ellen, I'll have to go look it up.

Jan 15, 2013, 12:33 pm

Richard, it's still on hold at the library. I haven't yet read (nor reviewed) it. But I will!!
I just checked and I'm #364 in the queue for one of 87 copies.

Jan 15, 2013, 12:37 pm


Well, I read Drown years ago and was pleased by it, so I'll give this one a go after you assure me the waters are okay.

Jan 15, 2013, 1:28 pm

Richard, I own a copy of This Is How You Lose Her and like so many other books started it and then put it aside. Not, however, because it wasn't good. I'm just stuck in a pattern of starting and not finishing books. I probably read 30 to 40 pages and thought it was excellent and it's not quite as depressing as Drown which I also liked.

Thanks for the recommendation for 420 Characters. I just put that one on hold at the library.

And alphaorder, thanks for the link to the short story collection prize site. I've read a novel by Dan Chaon that I liked but never his short stories. I've never heard of the third book mentioned but will check it out.

Jan 15, 2013, 2:01 pm

I read and liked This is How You Lose Her but wasn't as wowed as most people seem to be. It was my first Diaz.

I am a fan of Dan Chaon's so I read Stay Awake right away. Good but creepy. Don't read right before bed.

Jan 15, 2013, 4:03 pm

>200 phebj: Oh yechhh Pat! I've been in patterns like that, and they are hellish.

>201 alphaorder: It would be my first Chaon, I think, so is it a good place to start?

Jan 15, 2013, 7:50 pm

Knowing you, Richard, I would say yes!

Jan 15, 2013, 9:26 pm

Holy cow, 420 Characters has to be some of the most fun, adventuresome reading in my recent reading history. I am alternating from laughing my ass off, being creeped out and nodding in understanding, then to just being in awe of the choice of language, descriptions, etc. Thanks Richard for alerting me to this. There is NO WAY I would have discovered it on my own. It is almost like poems, but kinda better. Not really like anything else I can compare it to.

Jan 16, 2013, 6:15 am

Onto the wish list it goes...

Jan 16, 2013, 9:51 am

>203 alphaorder: Okay, I'm on the waiting list. Looking forward to it.

>204 CarolynSchroeder: I am so pleased it's found such a good audience, Carolyn! It's really a fun idea, and Beach makes it look effortless, but I am sure as much effort goes into one of those stories as went into any haiku ever made.

>205 alphaorder: In for a treat, you are! (I had dreams about Yoda last night.)

Jan 17, 2013, 12:52 am

Putting Stay Awake on my wish list. Just recently got into short stories and am currently reading Man's Work by John Connelly. Next up are several volumes of New Stories from the South.

Jan 17, 2013, 6:01 am

Peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise
Finished reading: 16 January 2013

Honoré de Balzac’s main oevre consists of 91 stories, novels and analytical essays, and 46 unfinished works together constituting a grand Comédie Humaine. This colossal series of works, with the subtitle Study of mores, aims to describe all aspects of society. Each novel or story focuses on a different layers, genders, social classes, ages, professions and institutions in French society during the Restauration and July Monarch period (1815 – 1848), showing the causes and effects in society.

A less well-known part of Balzac’s oevre are the five stories constituting Peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise. These stories are directly linked to La Comédie Humaine. They are parables which make the reader reflect on human society through the eyes of animals.

These five stories were written by Honoré de Balzac as a contribution to a series of short stories, plays, etc collected and edited by Pierre-Jules Hetzel, who used the pen name P.-J. Stahl. Hetzel was active as an editor as well as writer. He knew and was friends with many French authors who were active during the first half of the nineteenth century, including many great illustrators and artists, whom he asked to contribute to the magazines and collaborative book projects he initiated. Besides his editorial work, Pierre-Jules Hetzel produced a considerable oevre which can appreciated in its own right.

Hetzel’s first success was with Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux. Études de mœurs contemporaines. This serialized work consists of novellas, satirical stories, and short plays, each richly illustrated with wood cuts by Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard, usually known under the pen names J.J. Grandville or Jean-Jacques Grandville. Grandville specialized in zoomorphic pictures, and illustrated books and magazines of various authors during his life time. Over a period of two years he contributed 320 wood cuts to Hetzel’s Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux.

Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux first appeared serialized between 1840 and 1842, and then in book form in two volumes in 1841 and 1842. The books were very successful and were reprinted several times throughout the nineteenth century.

Volume one of consists of sixteen episodes. P.-J. Stahl is the main contributor, writing the Prologue and three episodes. Honoré de Balzac also contributed four episodes to the first volume, but one of his contributions in this volume, , although written by Balzac was attributed to George Sand. Other authors who contributed to volume I are Émile de La Bédollière, Gustave Droz, Jules Janin, Édouard Lemoine, Paul de Musset, Charles Nodier and Louis Viardot.
Volume two consists of fourteen episodes, five by Stahl, two by Droz, and one each by Bédollière , Alfred de Musset, L. Baude, Ménessier Nodier (daughter of Charles Nodier), Pierre Bernard and Honoré de Balzac.

The five episodes or novellas written by Balzac are collected and published as a separate volume. This type of “out-of-context” publication makes for quite difficult reading. For example, my edition has neither an introduction which might explain the broader framework of Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux, nor footnotes, nor illustrations. Knowledge of the broader framework is needed to understand direct references to the framework. In the Prologue the animals form an editorial board for the whole work, so when Balzac opens his second story as follows:

Messieurs les Rédacteurs, les Ânes sentent le besoin de s'opposer, à la Tribune Animale, contre l'injuste opinion qui fait de leur nom un symbole de bêtise. (p. 133)

Seasoned readers would know who those Rédacteurs (editors ) are, but without proper references the reader is at a loss.

Generally, Peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise is difficult to read because of many references to politicians, scientists and other real-life people during the first half of the nineteenth century, and cross references between the episodes, to episodes contributed by other authors. Therefore, Peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise may not be such a light read, and for full appreciation, the reader without an annotated edition may have to spend some time looking up references.

Balzac’s first novella is titled Peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise. It is an amusing story which can be read without much difficulty. It very clearly portrays Victorian mores about what does and what does not constitute proper behaviour in public. Like all other stories it is completely, cleverly and convincingly, written from the point of animals, in this case cats, and therefore presents humourous descriptions of how cats eat, drink milk or spend the whole night sleeping on the lap of their owner whilst he plays whist. Peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise is a love story, describing the love of a fairly common cat for an “aristocratic” breed, and subsequent developments.

The second story by Balzac Guide-âne à l’usage des animaux qui veulent parvenir aux honneurs is much more difficult to understand as it refers to a scientific debate about the classification of animals by competing zoologists at the time the story was written.
The third story, Voyage d’un moineau de Paris à la recherche du meilleur gouvernement is more readable again. It is this story which was attributed to George Sand, as Balzac said he did not want to dominate volume 1. As a kind of introduction, the story opens describing the social structure of classes in Paris, or rich and poor sparrows, suggesting that the growing gap between the classes needs to be addressed by finding a more suitable form of government. Subsequently, the sparrow travels to three imaginary realms, the realm of the Ants, the Kingdom of the Bees, with their glorious Queen, clearly a reference to Victorian Britain, and the realm of the Wolves, to descide on the most appropriate form of state.
The next story, Voyage d’un lion d’Afrique à Paris, et ce qui s’ensuivit was difficult to follow. Superficially, it describes the visit of the Lion, the crown prince, to Paris. He is astounded to find that in France “the King reigns but the people rule” (A Paris, the roi règne et ne gouverne pas (p.204). The Lion describes contemporary Paris where anything is sold and anything can be bought. The story is written in epistolary from, of letters written home to his father. It is a satire of the demi-monde of Paris at that time (a propos the word “demi-monde” wasn’t coined until 1855). The story was difficult to understand because many references are not clear.

The last story Les amours de deux bêtes offerts en exemple aux gens d’esprit : histoire animau-sentimentale was the most readable, and most beautiful story to read. It is a love story that reads like a fairytale about the love of a Ladybug for a Caterpillar. The structure of the story is a little bit confusing because the story is set up as people’s observations of true love among animals, while the story contains references to the human world, the animal world an another realm inhabited by imaginary animals. These three layers are a bit confusing, but do not prevent the reader from an enchanting, magic reading experience. This story, was by far the most beautiful.

Overall, Balzac’s Peines de coeur d'une chatte anglaise is a very difficult, but with the right references, very rewarding, and thence, also, very enjoyable read. It is definitely advisable to buy an annotated edition, or read the stories within the context of Hetzel’s Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux.

Jan 17, 2013, 7:45 am

Wow, great review edwin! Thanks for taking the time.

I finished 420 Characters and put up a short review because it was light on those and I always like to pipe in. I feel it is an exciting book that could use a bit more recognition.

Now taking a short fiction/story break until our February thread goes up, and will delve into a few novels for the last two weeks in January.

Jan 17, 2013, 7:46 am

I am still reading - and enjoying - Dear Life.

Jan 17, 2013, 7:50 pm

>208 edwinbcn: I am very impressed, Edwin, and thanks for that closely explained look at a lesser-known Balzac work. I suspect I'd need not only annotation but tutoring to get the most from it...but now there's your review!

>209 CarolynSchroeder: Yay! Oh, but Carolyn...allow me to assure you...the Facebook status updates are in no way like this. No way. Darn it.

>210 alphaorder: Enjoying is the key word.

Jan 18, 2013, 1:20 am

I am struggling through Dear Husband and have given up on a couple of stories. Each time I think I will abandon the book, the next story is semi okay. Will try the last 4, but I guess this book just isn't me :o(

Jan 18, 2013, 1:43 am

>212 FionaWh: Given how very much she writes, Fiona, I'm amazed when I find even SOME of Oates's work memorable, still less enjoyable. Sorry for the time invested in something less than delicious, though.

Jan 18, 2013, 2:37 am

#213 Never mind, lesson learnt, on to the next one....

Jan 18, 2013, 8:07 pm

I've picked up a copy of 420 Characters at the library and my cousin is loaning me his copy of Dubliners. The short story train just keeps on rollin'!

Editado: Jan 19, 2013, 6:20 pm

A friend of mine is reading (and was raving about) Black American Short Stories: A Century Of The Best and I asked him to pick one story I should read. He picked this story by Zora Neale Hurston called, "The Guilded Six-Bits" and so, after my Pen & Ink class, I ambled down to the library, sat in front of the fireplace, and read it. I got it out of Hurston Novels & Stories though. It was outstanding, so I borrowed the book and am reading the small section at the back devoted to her short stories (nine of them).

Jan 19, 2013, 9:59 pm

>215 EBT1002: And a wonderful thing it is, Ellen!

>216 CarolynSchroeder: I am a Hurston fan from the 1970s forward, so I am really glad to see her work garnering new admirers.

Jan 20, 2013, 12:28 pm

Ellen, you are in for a treat with Dubliners. It is one of my favorite books - each story is just a gem.

Um, yeah, still haven't read any short stories.... (slinks away).....

Jan 20, 2013, 1:50 pm

Ha - just saw my copy of Dubliners on a shelf upstairs. I've owned it for over 25 years, but still haven't read it. Guess I will add it to my hopeful in 2013 list.

Jan 21, 2013, 12:50 pm

A new collection of short stories from Jess Walter, We Live in Water coming in February!
Looking forward this from one of my favorite writers.

Jan 21, 2013, 1:01 pm

>219 alphaorder: Looks to me like a lot of folks have that one to read. Maybe someone wants to head up a group read of it?

>220 jldarden: Will that be one of your challenge reads?

Jan 21, 2013, 3:58 pm

The Angel esmeralda is a collection of Don DeLillo's, written between 1979 and 2011. What to say? I love watching a writers style develop and in this collection, one who's read enough of his novels can see how his writing matured over that time period.

Not an uplifting group, but all worth reading. DeLillo catches you with passages you swear were snipped from your life and dropped into his in his best writings. I find a number of these stories complete in doing this.

Jan 21, 2013, 4:22 pm

>222 tcw: DeLillo catches you with passages you swear were snipped from your life and dropped into his in his best writings.

That's a very high endorsement, tcw, and well-stated. Thanks for coming to share it!

Jan 21, 2013, 4:36 pm

>220 jldarden: Thanks for letting us know. Wishlisted!

Jan 21, 2013, 6:31 pm

>221 richardderus: Sad to say I haven't fully committed to the challenge yet. Moving in a couple weeks, looking for work and taking some classes to aid in that. All time consuming! Hoping in a couple of months things will settle down!

Jan 21, 2013, 8:19 pm

I am reading The Pretty Girl: Novella and Stories by Debra Spark. So far, I really like it!

Jan 22, 2013, 3:25 am

Oh do novellas fit here? I don't have any short stories on hand at the moment, but have a book of NZ novellas to finish, otherwise I will just finish the other books I have on the go, and come back here soon :o)

Jan 22, 2013, 8:45 am

I don't think novellas fit, exactly, but that one was packaged as a novella, then there are a bunch of short stories afterwards ... so I think that part probably fits!

Jan 22, 2013, 9:12 am

This thread is a gem! Especially for those of us for whom Mt. TBR can never be too high!

Jan 22, 2013, 12:37 pm

Volt by Alan Heathcock (4 stars)

Thanks to Richard for bringing this amazing collection of short stories to my attention. I say amazing because these stories are dark and disparaging, and yet it is not depressing to read them. They capture so exquisitely those moments of tragedy that are part of every community. I used to live in a small town that was mostly farms, and these stories that are anchored by their location, the fictional city of Krafton, ring true. It is important, I think, to read them in the order in which they are presented, some characters appear in more than one story and sequence becomes valid here, adding depth to their presence. All eight stories are good, but The Daughter was my favorite, and Lazarus was my least favorite. Dig in - I do not think you will be disappointed, and you will have food for thought long after you have closed the pages.

"'I wish I could take my brain and put it inside your head,' Winslow said. 'Just for a moment. Then you'd know what all I can't find how to say.'" - from The Staying Freight

"'Ever feel like your mind's set funny?' Hep said. 'Like ain't a person in the world could understand you? I think I'm crazy. I really think I must be.' Walt watched Hep's face, flushed in the mercurial light. 'Sometimes I wish I was in the movies,' he said. 'Not to be famous or nothing. I just wish I was made of light. Then nobody'd know me except for what they saw up on that screen. I'd just be light up on the silver screen, and not at all a man.'" - from Fort Apache

"The crop whispered, the corn swaying.... The sky hung a black cloth sprinkled with luminous dust." - from The Daughter

"Things vanished. People vanished. Clouds gave way to sun gave way to night. Only feelings, like spirits, endured, branded to the back of our eyes, laced into our marrow. Miriam lifted a sweater to her face, blue and soft and threadbare at the elbows, still holding a hint of her mother's scent. Try as she might, she couldn't imagine her mother on streets of gold, washed in ethereal light, couldn't even imagine her wearing this sweater, which had been her favorite. Miriam could only recall her mother as she'd seen her that day at the morgue, a sheet to her chin...She considered this life and the next, decided Heaven and Hell were just where the living chose to put you once you passed..." - from The Daughter

Jan 22, 2013, 1:32 pm

Novellas are technically outside the scope of the original purpose...but I'm not in favor of rigidity. If you think they fit, Fiona, then they fit.

BTW, Ellen put up a brief review of 420 Characters.

Jan 22, 2013, 2:02 pm

mmm maybe I had better concentrate on what I have out from the library already instead of getting ahead of myself......

My library doesn't have Volt or 420 characters damn! and Dubliners is out, double damn, sure sign to concentrate on what I have :o)

Jan 22, 2013, 2:14 pm

Heh! Go with the auspices, Fiona, the Fates are never kind to resistors.

Jan 22, 2013, 2:18 pm

Thanks for linking to my brief "review" of 420 Characters, Richard. I can hardly keep up with regular threads, much less all these "specialty" threads!!

Jan 22, 2013, 2:24 pm

I aim to please. *smooch*

Jan 22, 2013, 2:46 pm

I've just written a review of The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash, which consists of three stories about the corruption, caste prejudice and poverty that afllicts many residents of modern India. I gave it 4-1/2 stars. It was published last year and is currently available in the US and UK, in print and electronic versions.

Jan 22, 2013, 4:48 pm

>236 kidzdoc: *sigh*

*trudges off to library to get book*

*mutters unkind things about physicians with persuasive powers*

Jan 22, 2013, 10:05 pm

Ah, finished my first collection of 2013 - Alice Munro's excellent Dear Life.

Jan 22, 2013, 10:57 pm

Successful read, then! Good. Do you write reviews of the books you read?

Jan 23, 2013, 8:10 am

I don't usually write reviews. Often just a small set of thoughts on my own thread. I don't know why I don't really. Having been a bookseller for 20 years, I prefer having verbal conversations about the books I read rather than "writing" reviews.

Editado: Jan 23, 2013, 8:21 am

Wow, great review and sounds like a really wonderful (different) short story collection, kidzdoc. Thanks for putting it up! Looks like e-book/Kindle is the way to go on that one as I cannot find it locally or at the library system; and it's 30.00/paperback @ Amazon!

I am surprisingly impressed with The Pretty Girl: Novella and Stories by Debra Spark so far. She is an excellent observational author, really getting what make people tick, specifically Jewish folks and artists (and often both). Being an artist (athough not Jewish), I am a little snotty sometimes on the art process. I don't find it is written about all that well if one does not understand it first hand. But whether this author is or is not a fine artist, I do not know, because her writing it that good. I finished the "novella" parts, which is comprised of two parts - interlinked but not dependent upon each other - so almost like two teensy novellas or longer short stories (confused yet?). The rest of the book is actual short stories, which I am about to begin. So gosh, I don't know. I rather think it fits here, maybe, but even if the novella parts don't, the six short stories do.

Anyway, there are so many formats out there now that seem a hybrid of things, so if it fits, wear it, I guess!

Jan 23, 2013, 10:34 am

Richard, I'm with you. Darryl's review hit me with no ambiguity at all. Just flat out "I gotta read that book." Sheesh.

Jan 23, 2013, 12:07 pm

>240 alphaorder: Ah, that would color one's desire to review things in writing. I myownself use reviews to fix books in my memory. Some simply slip away from me now if I don't expend the effort to get some thoughts down as soon as I read them.

>241 CarolynSchroeder: If you want it to fit, it fits...though I must say I don't see any problem with any of the parameters you've mentioned to date.

>242 EBT1002: *grumble* I get so mad at him, Ellen!

Jan 24, 2013, 8:09 pm

I finished The Pretty Girl: Novella and Stories by Debra Spark and really enjoyed it, put up a short review. Now for a non-fictional interlude ... until my next short story collection selection (hey, that rhymes).

Jan 25, 2013, 9:24 am

I haven't abandoned y'all. I just caught up on this thread. Whew! Hopefully, I can get on here with a few suggestions for short story collections which are also serving as suggestions for me. I picked up several short story collections over the last month in anticipation of reading them for this challenge, now I just have to locate them amongst the monstrous piles that await cataloging and general care-taking. Some great reviews on here, folks. And such a nice group of people. Oh, oh, oh, here's one! Light In The Crossing by Kent Meyers. These are short stories connected by the fictional farming town of Cloten, Minnesota, and the relationships between the people that inhabit the town and farms. I also have Best American Short Stories 2004 on the TBRSS mountain.

Jan 25, 2013, 10:20 am

>244 CarolynSchroeder: I oiked that review, Carolyn, gave a good sense of the author's subjects as uneasy, on edge.

>245 mmignano11: Hi Mary Beth! Join in as and when you can.

Jan 26, 2013, 8:30 am

Carolyn (and others) - 420 Characters arrived. I have only read 6 stories, but I LOVE the collection. Somehow he manages to get so much is so little space - the setting, the atmosphere, and the characters. Don't want to read them too fast since I find myself thinking about them. I would not have found this gem without you and this thread!

Jan 26, 2013, 1:43 pm

>247 alphaorder: How wonderful! I know that feeling, the deep involvement in the stories, and I'm very happy you found the book through the happy-talk about it here.

Jan 26, 2013, 5:14 pm

Finished 420 Characters. That is 2 short story collections so far this month for me!

Jan 26, 2013, 11:00 pm

I guess I have started this read along without realizing it. I just completed my second collection this month as well. Both were member giveaway e-books. More Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse and
Permanent Damage. Both are reviewed here on LT. I am also a couple of stories into Man's Work by John Connelly (a real hardcover!).
I am finding these short story collections refreshing as most books seem to have a need to be franchises these days rather than something intelligent and meaningful.

Jan 27, 2013, 10:06 am

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Hi everyone,

I'm a new author, and just wanted to let you know about my new book/QuichRead, which will be available for free download on Amazon from 28/01/2013 - 01/02/2013. Please see below for details pertaining to the book:

Pablo Morales (Around the British Isles - S3 Quick Read)

Book Description:
Follow the exciting new adventures of Pablo Morales as he travels around Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Pablo finds himself submerged in a colourful world of new cultures, unparalleled experiences and promising new love interests, not without a few hiccups along the way. This is an ideal book for readers looking to brighten up their humdrum routine of daily life with a series of entertaining short stories , or simply wanting an interesting and affordable QuickRead.

Product Details:
File Size: 133 KB
Print Length: 27 pages
Publisher: James McCallum & Victoria Overton (January 6, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

KDP 5 Day FREE Promo Dates:
Mon 28/01/2013 - Fri 01/02/2013

US -
UK -
ES -

YouTube Promotion Video:

Hope everyone enjoys the book, and I'd love to know what people think about the book and hear any ideas of what we could do to ensure that the next book in the series is even better! :)


Jan 27, 2013, 10:43 am

>249 alphaorder: An excellent pace. I hope it keeps up.

>250 jldarden: Three stars for More Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse is encouraging, but I didn't see a review from you at Permanent Damage's review page. Did I miss something?

Jan 27, 2013, 3:28 pm

Richard; fixed the problem. I initially added this to my library in October when I received it. Searching my books showed it with me as only member and only review. Found LT page for it and saw other reviews and added mine.

Jan 27, 2013, 7:04 pm

Okidoki......starting my first short story collection for the year! Tropical Fish: Stories Out of Entebbe by Doreen Baingana looks very interesting. Flyleaf indicates that these stories are connected stories about three sisters in Uganda. It was published in 2005. Stay tuned!

Jan 28, 2013, 7:56 am

Munro fans: if someone is reading their first Alice Munro now, which would you suggest they start with? I have read so many over the years, but can't think which I would recommend to start.

Jan 30, 2013, 9:45 pm

#255. The only one I've read so far is The View From Castle Rock, and I enjoyed it tremendously. A friend who is a fan sent it to me, so she must have thought it a good place to start.

January was a bust for me as far as this read-along was concerned. Don't know how February will shape up, but I'll keep a good thought, and try for at least one collection of short fiction.

Jan 31, 2013, 11:38 am

I've a couple Short Story collections I hope to read soon, but whether I read them or not, I wanted to list them here for others to consider.

1.Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver-Anybody who has read Carver and liked what they read, obviously appreciates his clever,singular take on the world. I have literally laughed out loud while reading Carver; while not the knee-slapping type of jokester, it's the understated observation that then becomes the glaringly obvious after he's pointed it out for us, it's the thing we wish we had said. That, and his mastery of the form make for a great read. The added benefit of being able to discuss his stories in class made reading this and several other individual stories a great reading/learning experience for me. Last year I read his biography. He led a very difficult life, which very well may have contributed to his wry sense of humor.

2.Light In The Crossing byKent Meyers-I haven't read anything by Meyers yet. This collection centers around his fictional town of Cloten, Minnesota a farming community, and its inhabitants.

3.Sourland by Joyce Carol Oates-Sixteen previously uncollected stories that explore violence, loss and grief.

4.The Practical Heart by Allan Gurganus-This is an award-winning collection of novellas taking place in the fictional town of Falls, North Carolina.

Jan 31, 2013, 1:47 pm

#256 Well, I decided to make a liar out of myself -- dug out my unread copy of Interpreter of Maladies last night and have read the first two stories. I'll make a bigger dent in it tonight, but certainly won't finish it in January. It is a collection by a first-time author, albeit one which I am very late in getting to (and in fact, I've already read Lahiri's novel, The Namesake, so she isn't new to me). Reading this one will also add to my ROOT total.

Jan 31, 2013, 2:15 pm

A February Short Stories thread is up! Come and make suggestions, announce intentions, or browse for ideas of short story collections to sample this month. As always, reviews or links to them are most appreciated.

Mar 31, 2013, 11:56 pm

I've put up the April thread for them as wishes to read along for another month.