Short Stories

  • Dance of the Happy Shades

    Alice Munro

    I was partway through this collection of short fiction when I had to check to see if this was Munro’s first collection of stories (which it is). So often her stories seem to leave no stone to untouched, and, even though it’s not as long as a novel, you still have the sense that the narrative is entirely complete at the...more

  • Unaccustomed Earth

    Jhumpa Lahiri

    I have to admit I felt bored with the first part of this short story collection. Not really because the stories themselves were boring to me — Lahiri has a consistently elegant storytelling approach that I enjoy — but because the consistency itself pulls it down as a collection. It’s almost like each story arcs in such a similar...more

  • Ficciones

    Jorge Luis Borges

    I’ve wanted to read something by Borges for a while but I always felt intimidated by his reputation of “superhuman erudition.” Most of this book is pretty cerebral with stories that are really academic-sounding fake histories; yet as the book progresses, the stories edge into the accessible range.

    I took too long to type this...more

  • The Boat

    Nam Le

    “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice” is probably the best story in this book. Largely autobiographical, a writer in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop follows the drunken suggestion of a colleague to mine his father’s experience in Vietnam because “Ethnic literature’s hot.” His father conveniently...more

  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

    Raymond Carver

    I have somehow managed to never read an entire collection of Raymond Carver’s short stories, despite being somewhat of an enthusiast of the form and having read a few of his stories in passing. This one caught my eye at the library, as I’d guess Murakami played off this title with...more

  • How to Breathe Underwater

    Julie Orringer

    I wanted to like this collection more, but there was something missing or it just wasn’t the right time to read it. Maybe the stories are just a little too polished, a little too clean. Like The Mother Garden, all of these stories involve some element of sickness or grief. But unlike that...more

  • The Mother Garden

    Robin Romm

    Elissa was returning this at the library and told me I should read it, so I checked it out. This collection could be subtitled something like”variations on grief,” as all of them involve a core theme of loss, whether imminent or realized. Most of the deaths involve sickness, especially cancer,...more

  • Difficult Loves

    Italo Calvino

    I’d only ever read Calvino’s amazing Invisible Cities, but I wandered into the FICTION C aisle the day I got my NYPL card and grabbed this collection. I guess I’ve always been worried of treading beyond...more

  • Tony Takitani

    Haruki Murakami

    A friend told me about Cloverfield Press a while back — short fiction paired with art and letterpress-printed covers. Since I missed this Murakami story in The New Yorker (it’s only online in a terrible, abbreviated version) and never finished...more

  • Get Down

    Asali Solomon

    This is probably my favorite short story collection that I’ve read all year. I find the collections I enjoy the most are those where all of the stories are rooted in certain commonalities while each one retains a distinctive feel and focus, as if the collection constitutes an exercise in working out all the possibilities of those...more

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