Favorite Short Story Collections/Anthologies

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Favorite Short Story Collections/Anthologies

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Ago 2, 2006, 3:00 pm

Here's where you can give (or gather) recommendations for your favorite books of short stories. What's the best collection, who published the best anthology in a particular field, which collections do you think are classics or should be better known? Let it all out.

Ago 3, 2006, 2:15 pm

I can't recommend Ascent of Wonder highly enough. I've got a lot of sf anthologies, and that one stands head and shoulders above them all. It is biased towards hard sf, but with over 60 stories and many of the major names represented there's somethign there for everyone.

Ago 4, 2006, 5:13 am

I am a fan of weird tales so my favorite short story collection has to be a Borges collection. His stories have depth and a level of understanding that I like.

There are two authors that I'd like to recommend as well though: China Miéville's Looking for Jake is awesome and any short story collection by Haruki Murakami (they're all wonderful but I do especially like the new one Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.)

Ago 4, 2006, 6:50 am

moondust, I finished Murakami's Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman about 2 weeks ago and really liked it too. Even allowing for a certain sameness to a few of the stories, it was mostly terrific and I think truly representative(in a good way) of his whole career.

Ago 4, 2006, 7:11 am

I agree it's very representative! Although I did find some of the stories a little "pushed in" so to speak. As if they wanted the book to have a few more pages. Still it is a great read (even those stories that I felt were a little ... off?)

Ago 10, 2006, 12:23 am

on Murakami, I enjoyed immensely The Elephant Vanishes but I'm finding After the Quake less exciting.

The freshest, most imaginitive, most original short stories I've read in years though were Victor Pelevin's The Blue Lantern.

Ago 10, 2006, 1:19 am

I love Donald Barthelme's two collections: Forty Stories and Sixty Stories. Barthelme was an incredibly gifted and versatile short story writer, capable of moving convincingly from comedy to tragedy and back to comedy again (or vice versa) all in the span of a half dozen or so pages. Sixty Stories is the more virtuosic, experimental and better known collection, but I think I might like Forty Stories more-there's greater tenderness and empathy in these stories, perhaps less intellectual brilliance and razzle dazzle but a little more heart. They're both indisputably great though and essential to any library of short stories.

Editado: Ago 10, 2006, 10:38 am

For those who like Mieville, and Murakami, I would definitely recommend trying Things That Never Happen by M. John Harrison. His short-stories are packed with odd, beautiful, and strangely terrifying moments. He is brilliant with language, and shares the ability with Murakami and Mieville of turning the mundane into something wonderous and/or sinister.

Ago 21, 2006, 2:47 pm

Thank you chuchu for that tip! I'll have to look into it! ;)

10shockem360 Primeira Mensagem
Ago 24, 2006, 4:01 pm

I just want to thank everyone for thier suggestions here. I'm always looking for good short story collections. I'll even leave a recommendation of my own. For me, fiction doesn't get much better than Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver. The language is deceptively simple and direct. Every story is a subtle, understated gem that brilliantly reveals extraordinary moments in the characters' ordinary lives.

11larpiainen Primeira Mensagem
Ago 24, 2006, 5:06 pm

I really enjoyed Jhumpa Lahiri's book "The interpreter of maladies" a very nice collection of short stories taking place in India and Boston.

Editado: Ago 27, 2006, 12:45 pm

I'm a great lover of well-written short stories. I've read too many books of short story collections to pick my favorite. There are simply too many of them that are great. I'll just add to this forum after completing an especially good book. Is that okay?

Today I finished reading The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft. I ended up really liking this book after a skeptical start.

This book is a bit more dense than books I usually read, although I must admit I wanted to learn more about this author who is the "father of contemporary horror fiction".

I ended up really liking this book for the effective writing in which the author created a sense of heightened tension in each story as each plot progressed. It was really an exciting experience to read these stories. I can now see how modern horror fiction writers use Lovecraft as a starting point in developing their own craft of writing.

My favorites of this collection were "The Picture in the House", "Herbert West: Reanimator", "The Whisperer in Darkness", and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth".

Ago 27, 2006, 12:13 pm

Surprised to see the name Lovecraft and the expression 'excellent writing' in the same review. That is not to say his writing is without merit, despite his turgid style, the stories themselves can be strangely effective.

Jorge Luis Borges Labyrinths is a classic collection. Borges may not be a writer for characterisation but his stories are witty and very clever.

Gogol is usually lumped with the other major 19th century Russian writers but his stories are the precursors to Kafka's excellent short stories, and as such, still seem very modern. Plays and Petersburg Tales contains all the major works.

And there is always Ballard's The Complete Stories to keep you busy for a while.

Editado: Ago 27, 2006, 12:56 pm

Surprised to see the name Lovecraft and the expression 'excellent writing' in the same review. That is not to say his writing is without merit, despite his turgid style, the stories themselves can be strangely effective.

Okay, jargoneer, I edited my previous post to change the word "excellent" to "effective". The point is that the author really engaged me with his writing. I did not expect to like this book at all and was pleasantly surprised the farther I got into the stories.

I think it was his turgid style that was originally off-putting to me, but then I figured perhaps that was the writing style of the 1920's or 1930's. I generally limit my reading to more contemporary writing.

Ago 27, 2006, 7:57 pm

Lovecraft, like most genre writers in the pre-war period, published in the pulp magazines (in the US, at least). They paid by the word so it was to the author's benefit to use as many words as possible. Allied to that Lovecraft used a large number of archaic words for effect. This is what makes his work seem so laboured. It also leads to the debate, whether his influence on weird fiction was good or bad?

Major literary writers of the 1920's however, were published in places like the Saturday Evening Post which paid very well, so they have a style much more palatable to modern sensibilities. F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example, made a lot of money from these publications. Unfortunately, he spent even more. Every home should have a copy of Fitzgerald's The Collected Short Stories, and a copy of Hemingway's The First 49 Stories next to it.

Ago 27, 2006, 8:57 pm

jargoneer, thanks for sharing that information with me. I found it very interesting. I agree that the Lovecraft stories were wordy, just never realized the reason for that!

I think Lovecraft's influence on weird fiction was good only because I found that, after I passed through the wordy introduction to each story, I was drawn into them in a way that I felt frightened by what might happen next. Despite the wordiness, I wanted to read all of the stories.

Interestingly enough, some of the others on BookCrossing who shared this same book with me found that they had had enough of his style after reading only a few of the stories. To each his own, I guess.

Editado: Ago 27, 2006, 9:38 pm

hippietrail, I just finished reading The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami. I had been reading these stories over a long period of time and decided to read the last two stories today as my daughter wants to keep this book. Which stories did you like best?

"The Little Green Monster" is my daughter's all time favorite story.

I liked "The Family Affair" because it reminded me of the relationship between my middle son and my daughter. He's interested in how she's doing but doesn't want to be too intrusive in her life.

Another story that was nice was "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One April Morning". I read that story to my husband during our ride to the beach two weekends ago. He liked the story a lot as well. Kind of sad, wasn't it?

Set 12, 2006, 5:59 pm

Wow, I just finished the last story in Ben Fountain's new book Brief Encounters with Che Guevara and am completely blown away, as good a collection as I've read this year, and highly recommended.

Set 12, 2006, 7:15 pm

Bernard MacLaverty is a master of the short story genre imho.

Editado: Set 24, 2006, 12:11 am

Great group, I'm getting lots of ideas for further purchases. I prefer short stories over novels, I just never get around to collecting them. I would like to add to your list with one that I do own. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler. My favorite book however is not listed as Short Stories but as Essays; Old Songs in a New Cafe by Robert James Waller.

Editado: Set 23, 2006, 10:10 am

I just bought The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel. I highly recommend it if you're a fan of her work because most of the earlier collections are out-of-print and very hard to find (and quite expensive).

Nov 1, 2006, 11:03 am

Maeve Brennan's The Springs of Affection is one of my favorite collections of short stories. William Maxwell called the title story one of the greatest short stories of the 20th century.

Editado: Nov 1, 2006, 11:26 am

Most of my short story collections are single author, but I do have some multi-author works. Among the singles I highly recommend -

The Wall of the Sky, The Wall of the Eye by Jonathan Lethem. VERY weird doesn't even begin to cover the stories in this book. Highly imaginitive and original. Some of them are pretty adult though - not for children or those with overly sensitive constitutions.

Some of my other favorites are -
Nothing that Meets the Eye by Patricia Highsmith. This collection spans her entire career and is divided into 3 sections- early, middle and late. She has unique voice and makes the seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life into fascinating anecdotes.

Just an Ordinary Day and The Lottery and Other Stories - both Shirley Jackson collections. Her approach to her subjects is similar to Highsmith's in the way she makes the mundane interesting, Jackson's outcomes are just a bit more twisted though.

And who can forget The Stories of Ray Bradbury? Something for everyone in this - science fiction, horror, twisted tales of everyday life. Stunningly original prose style and fluidity of ideas. He's a master I never tire of.

For horror fans I recommend The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories - which I always call my Vampire Book of Penguin Stories (in my best Monty Python high-pitched squeaky voice) and also The Dark Descent. There is a bit of overlap on these, but not too much. Great little nasty gems included in both. Fun stuff.

Editado: Mar 17, 2007, 12:33 pm

--> 11 and others

I recently started a bookray for The Interpreter of Maladies. Anyone can join this bookray by sending me a PM (private message) via BookCrossing. Please include your mailing preferences. Thanks!

I bought this book (which I already read) specifically to share with others. I really, really liked it.

Editado: Set 25, 2007, 10:04 am

Editado: Nov 6, 2007, 11:43 pm

A lot of lovers of weird literary short stories here. I recommend Dogwalker and Beyond the Curve to them. I will check out Mr. Harrison! (Message 8).

In the realm of the not-as-weird, I think some of the best stories I ever read were in A Walk in The Night. I also enjoyed Pinckney Benedict. What happened to him?

The Barthelme collections are great bathroom reading for the literary set. I mean that in a good way.

Editado: Nov 23, 2007, 10:32 am

I've finished one of my favorite collections, the absolutely stunning, Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories. It's one of those books that would be one of the first I'd pull off my shelves if I was forced to evacuate. O’Connor did not live long, but she lived deeply, and wrote beautifully.

Nov 26, 2007, 2:41 pm

I keep pushing Truman Capote's short stories. The recent movies were interesting but emphasize In Cold Blood at the expense of the stories, which are actually his best work.

Nov 26, 2007, 2:52 pm

The only thing I still remember from Capote's Music For Chameleons was the not-short, Handcarved Coffins, but that was really outstanding.

Nov 26, 2007, 3:39 pm

I seem to have forgotten to mention Checkov who is my favorite short story writer in the world even though my translations are constance garnett's and may be inaccurate. I also love the turgenev Sportsman's Sketches and Three Lives by Gertrude Stein which is a masterpiece, imo.

Nov 26, 2007, 3:42 pm

Forgot Maupassant, Kay boyle and Katherine Mansfield and the Droll Stories of Balzac.

Nov 26, 2007, 3:42 pm

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Nov 26, 2007, 3:42 pm

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Nov 26, 2007, 6:12 pm

Usually an author did not get a collection of short stories published until he/she had published several sucessful novels. That is one of the reasons that every year I buy a copy of The Best American Short Stories. (Except I usually wait til the year os over when they are reduced in price) But it is a good way to read short stories that might never appear in a collection.

Nov 26, 2007, 6:29 pm

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I find very often on my public library new book shelf debut books that are short story collections. Some of the authors of these go on to write novels and some do not.

A good example might be Interpreter of Maladies. I loved that book when it came out. I liked the novel The Namesake which followed Jhumpa Lahiri's book of short stories, but not as much as her short story collection itself.

Nov 26, 2007, 9:47 pm


Editado: Nov 26, 2007, 10:20 pm

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I just read The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander. It was excellent! Now, I'm going to rush out and get a copy of his debut book of short stories to see what I'd been missing before! :D

Nov 27, 2007, 3:41 pm

MarianV: The Pushcart Prize collections are especially good for that purpose.


Editado: Jun 23, 2008, 11:58 pm

I just wanted to bring this thread to life again by mentioning Welcome to the Monkey House, a book of short stories by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.. I just finished it. I think I like this book of short stories even better than those novels of this author's that I've read.

Each story is very different. One story was so touching it even made me cry (the one about the Russian dad who was father to an astronaut). Another story was also so poignant (two different father's reactions to his own newborn child) it remained on my mind for quite a while.

Great writing. So sorry this wonderful author's not around any more to continue writing.

Fev 14, 2009, 2:35 pm

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Maio 30, 2009, 5:54 pm

I read public domain stories. Because they are free. Of Course nothing is not like books. Public domain stories: http://www.storybus.net

Jun 12, 2009, 12:31 pm

I'm almost finished Stephen King's Just After Sunset and I'm incredibly surprised at how literate and fun these stories are. I don't like all of them but a lot of them are great, suspenseful and really well written.

Jun 12, 2009, 12:33 pm

Another great collection of short fiction I recently read was Andrew Holleran's complete collection of short stories, In September the Light Changes. Not all of the stories are great, but some of them are beautifully written, some of the most precise and heart-breaking work I have ever read. Hollerancaptures loneliness like no other writer I have encountered so far.

Set 12, 2009, 12:58 pm

I recently finished Big Bad Love by the Mississippi writer Larry Brown. Wonderful collection of stories.

Out 15, 2009, 9:48 pm

Best short story collection's a toss-up between Philip K Dick's Five volume set, Harlan Ellison's complete set, and JG Ballard's recently released complete short story collection.

Jun 10, 2011, 5:13 am

Tales for Canterbury

A really great collection of short (and very short) stories. It's a fundraising effort for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake, which I only bought on a whim. (detail on the GD thread However I'm about 2/3 way through now and have been really impressed. It's divided into three sections, Survival, Hope, and Future with stories appropriately themed. Genre is basically speculative fiction - some sf, some slightyl weird, some traditional (and non) fairy tales, and a few just plain fiction. Biggest name author is Neil Gaiman and their are loads I've never heard of, but will be checking out because there are some great tales. Lots of poignant moments, and plenty of twists in the tail. I'll put a full review up when I#ve finished it in the next couple of days.


Throughly recommend this for everyone in this group!

Jun 11, 2011, 1:11 pm

My Review
Not a clunker amoung them, soem really excellent stories.

Jun 11, 2011, 2:45 pm

Thanks for the review, reading fox. I hadn't heard of that one and I'm always looking for more short stories.

Abr 4, 2012, 3:28 pm

Wow! This thread has been dormant for a long while, so let me try to revive it.

I have two collections of short stories that vie for the top position. One I read many years ago and the other relatively recently. The older one is No Comebacks by Frederick Forsyth. His short stories really reveal what a great writer Forsyth is. The one I read more recently is Saints and Strangers by Angela Carter. I am still raving about this collection. The stories all give an unusual twist to something that is familiar. Both collections are highly recommended.

Abr 14, 2012, 6:40 am

I'm hopeless at choosing favourites, I just can't do it, but I can make recommendations with the best of them. A few months ago I read The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr, and was just mesmerised. A wonderful (in the truest sense of the word) collection.

> 50 I've had Saints and Strangers on my wishlist for a while now, looks like I'll have to move it closer to the top.

Abr 14, 2012, 3:31 pm

Letting Loose the Hounds by Brady Udall is a great collection of stories I just read. He has the rare ability to mix loss, pain, and humor.

Maio 4, 2012, 11:09 am

Just finished Mary Miller's Big World and it's an excellent collection. My review: