Monday, March 22, 2010

Books By Theme: Short Stories

stairs short story grandma

Some of my most memorable reading experiences in high school come from short story collections, especially F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tales of the Jazz Age. I've been trying to get into some of the modern masters lately. Here are a few to peruse...

short stories Elizabeth Berg fiction
Investigating women's lives and expectations, Elizabeth Berg's lively collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation offers solace and comfort while exploring deeper themes. The melancholy “Rain” traces a woman's friendship with an old pal, who dropped his successful corporate life to live closer to nature. Rocky terrain is covered: fidelity, brain cancer, and mortality. Other stories are lighter, such as the title story in which the narrator kicks up her heels and skips her Weight Watchers meeting to indulge in her food cravings.

short stories fiction Amy bloom book
 The poignant coming-of-age tales of Amy Bloom's Come to Me: Stories explore the rich, intricate textures of family life. At her mother's funeral, reminiscing about her family's long summers spent with another family, the main character of “Love Is Not a Pie” realizes that her mother shared both a lover and a husband during those long, lazy days.
Unaccustomed Earth Jhumpa Lahiri short stories fiction
Like her Pulitzer Prize–winning Interpreter of Maladies , Jhumpa Lahiri's second volume of stories, Unaccustomed Earth, focuses on aspects of dislocation and assimilation. The titular selection features a woman in mourning, relocated from Brooklyn to Seattle, wondering if she should invite her recently widowed father, visiting from Pennsylvania, to share her home. The father has his own worries: he hopes his daughter will remain in the dark about a new relationship he is cultivating. Lahiri's characters' sense of loss is haunting, and her prose is gemlike. Readers will strike gold with this dazzling work, which also highlights Bengali customs and traditional Indian arrangements.


Each of the nine wry selections in Julie Orringer's debut, How to Breathe Underwater: Stories,
resembles a mininovel. Complex, spellbinding, and illuminating, “Stars of Motown Shining Bright” focuses on two girls retracing their sudden divergent paths. “Note to My Sixth Grade Self” is an acutely rendered study of the pain felt by a socially ostracized girl. Orringer's straightforward compassionate voice exposes the fears, secrets, and cruelties that children and adolescents experience. Her tender tales, overflowing with the turbulent longing and agonies of youth, testify to the enduring promise of the short story.



~ For more themed book lists, check out Listless by One Librarian's Book Reviews and Listed by Once Upon a Bookshelf ~

~ All summaries from Library Journal ~

Who are your favorite contemporary short story authors? 

11 comments:

Mary said...

I LOVED Unaccustomed Earth.

Aarti said...

I really enjoyed In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (don't remember how to spell the author's name). It is a series of stories set in 1970s Pakistan and was beautiful to read.

Andi said...

I loooove me some short stories, though I've been horrible at actually reading them lately.

My two fave contemporary short story writers are Miranda July and Simon Van Booy. July lives right on the edge of totally bizarre, and I completely fell in love with her collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You. Simon Van Booy's stuff is simply breathtaking in its simplicity and nuance. His book, The Secret Lives of People in Love, is one of my all-time fave story collections.

I really need to try Amy Bloom. I'm way out of the loop on that one.

writergal said...

Great choices. I haven't read the last one but will add to list. I like to carry around short stories though I don't read them often. I have Amy Bloom's new collection and just cannot read it/ halfway through and put it aside. Aimee Bender is supposed to be good. I have one of hers after I heard her at a reading.

Karenlibrarian said...

Most of my favorite short stories are by classic authors, but for living authors, I love Neil Gaiman. Kelly Link writes some great fantasy short stories also. I haven't read Unaccustomed Earth but I loved The Interpreter of Maladies.

LuAnn said...

If you enjoy short stories, you might want to check out the spring reading challenge I'm hosting. It's at http://springintoshortstorieschallenge.blogspot.com/

Court said...

I don't read a lot of short stories, but there are a few contemporary ones that I have enjoyed - Holly Black's The Poison Eaters, and Susanna Clarke's The Ladies of Grace Adieu.

brichtabooks said...

Have you read any Alice Munro? Her book Too Much Happiness had some wonderful short stories in it. I also liked Olive Kitteridge, which is a collection of short stories that are all related and the character of Olive makes some appearance in each story.

Veens said...

I loved Unaccustomed Earth! And I am sure I need to add the others to my wishlist! I love to read short stories, as you might have seen on my blog LOL!
Thanks for this post!

Zibilee said...

It's been so long since I have read a short story! Your roundup of these books has made me want to pick up more of them. I did get Unaccustomed Earth for Christmas, so I might start there, but the other collections look good as well!

Misty said...

I have Unaccustomed Earth waiting for me. I borrowed it from a friend a shamefully long time ago, and have yet to even glance at it. I really need to get around to it.

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