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