If You Haven’t Read These

I love the short story form, the distillation it demands. Poised between poems and novels, short fiction offers the best of both: precision on the one side, intrigue on the other. While the quality of writing in literary short fiction often surpasses the prose found in novels, most folks prefer the latter. “Why?” I’ve asked them, and invariably they tell me that short stories leave them feeling short-changed. Unsatisfied.

Here are some of my favorite collections, stories that will stay with you long after reading. Satisfaction guaranteed.

REASONS TO LIVE by Amy Hempel  −  Starling and poignant

DANCING GIRLS by Margaret Atwood  −  An adroit sampling by a long-admired author

BABE IN PARADISE by Marisa Silver  −  Great characters, fresh insights

DO NOT DENY ME by Jean Thompson  −  A stunning collection by an awesomely talented writer

ANOTHER MARVELOUS THING by Laurie Colwin  −  Tales of adultery, perfectly rendered

BIRDS OF AMERICA by Lorrie Moore  −  A delicious blend of wit and wisdom

IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT by Helen Simpson  −  Wicked fun

IT’S BEGINNING TO HURT by James Lasdun  −  Elegant and entertaining

NOTHING RIGHT by Antonya Nelson  −  Simply superb

CLOSE RANGE: WYOMING STORIES by Annie Proulx  −  Innovative and powerful

And speaking of brevity here are two short novels you absolutely must read:

TURTLE DIARY by Russell Hoban  −  An exquisite story of two social misfits with a common goal

A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY by J.L. Carr  −  Gentle, evocative writing


Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Lillian, Alabama. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

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