Short Stories

  • Dogwalker

    Arthur Bradford

    the unsettling thing about this book is that the first-person narrators to these twelve stories could all be the same person but aren’t; they all have this innocence and nonchalance at surreal events that is intended to be humorous. it kind of reminds me of Pastoralia by George Saunders in some ways.

    most of these stories involve dogs, except the one with the giant slug and the one where the narrator steals a blind guy’s car to drive south for the winter and a couple other short ones. the longer stories have the dogs and many of them are deformed in some way.

    there are interesting things going on here, but i feel like it’s not quite my sense of humor...more

  • The Laying on of Hands

    Alan Bennett

    i picked this up browsing at the library. supposedly Bennett has an “extraordinary ear for dialogue.” the three stories in this small book are all very funny, in a british comedy sort of way. in fact, the “Father! Father! Burning Bright” was originally a TV movie starring the author in 1982. i liked how the title story evolved, with certain characters identities being slowly revealed. “Miss Fozzard Finds her Feet” seemed to run around a lot without going anywhere interesting. in the end, the humor kind of turned me off, and when it’s basically all humor, that doesn’t leave a whole lot to enjoy.more

  • Interpreter of Maladies

    Jhumpa Lahiri

    it’s been a little while since i read any short stories (for me, at least). this is a great collection set mostly in boston/new england or india. my favorite was the first one, “A Temporary Matter,” where a couple reveal secrets during nightly planned power outages. they are all pretty excellent though.more

  • The Elephant Vanishes

    Haruki Murakami

    i’ve definitely fallen into Murakami’s style now, the very fantastic, science fiction twinged fables. After the Quake, as a collection, was far more striking. but a few of these stories stand out with an obvious sense of humor or enjoyable haunting mysteriousness — “The Dancing Dwarf” and “TV People” respectively. now i am curious to read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle after the short story that appears to have been worked into a novel.more

  • The River of Lost Voices

    Mark Brazaitis

    written by one of sandi’s professors at wvu, these stories are all set in guatemala. it’s a little weird reading stories about guatemala from the perspective of a white american, but he seems to bring light to the tense and sometimes tenuous relationships between the indigenous people, those of spanish decent, and less frequently the foreigners. the longer stories pack the sturdier punches, especially “A Detective’s Story” and “Bathwater.” the stories all seem to be pretty melancholy, and i wonder if that is really the message he intended.more

  • Ship Fever

    Andrea Barrett

    the back of the book claims these are “set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century.” i don’t want to nitpick or anything, but several are mostly set in the twentieth century and two are set in the eighteenth century.

    the stories all hinge on the sciences — from genetics to zoology to public health to several other branches — and that is definitely what makes this collection so outstanding. i love the concept of the littoral zone (in the story of the same name): “… that space between high and low watermarks where organisms struggled to adapt to the daily rhythm of immersion and exposure.

    the story that caught me the sharpest was “Rare Bird,” but then it ended so mysteriously and i’m still annoyed....more

  • The Stories of John Cheever

    John Cheever

    i only read about a third of this, since 700 pages of short stories seemed like a bit much all at once. even if i have been reading so many short story collections lately. these are set mostly in nyc, various times between the 1930s and 1950s with a range of class focuses. Cheever has exciting insights into his characters. i loved the slightly Twilight Zone feel to “The Enormous Radio” and the impressively epic “The Day the Pig Fell Into the Well.”

    the repeated references to old-fashioneds prompted me to order one one night, and the bartender had to look it up in a book and follow the recipe. the problem with ordering drinks like that is that the...more

  • Close Range

    Annie Proulx

    sometimes i don’t know if it’s that the stories get better as they come or if it just takes a few to get into the general feel. having been in wyoming last year, it’s nice to have a sense of how attuned the descriptions of scenery and atmosphere are in this collection. the longer stories are easy favorites: “Pair of Spurs” falls open in well-measured time; “Brokeback Mountain” is just heartbreaking, two tough cowboys in love and trying to make sense of it.

    The country appeared as empty ground, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, intricate sky, flocks of small birds like packs of cards thrown up in the air, and a faint track drifting toward the red-walled horizon. Graves were unmarked, fallen house

  • Circling the Drain

    Amanda Davis

    it’s kind of morbid that i sought this book out after reading Davis’s obituary in march. she also published a novel entitled Wonder When You’ll Miss Me.

    the stories are either pretty good or pretty darn good, occasionally with these fantastical elements that are really interesting. a couple of stories read something like folk tales or fairy tales. it’s just bizarre that this is now half of her life’s work.

    definitely a good read for the short story obsessed....more

  • Across the Bridge

    Mavis Gallant

    the april 2003 issue of Harper’s had a review of the two new collections of Gallan’s stories—being published by The New York Review of Books (one of which has just been released) — and called her an “unknown master.” at first i felt like reading the review had pushed my expectations too high; while the first three stories were interesting, all centering around the same family in montreal with some interesting language dynamics, they weren’t as altogether astounding as i’d assumed they would be. then in the middle a couple of the stories were just amazing and i understood where the reviewer was coming from.

    at times Gallant’s style reminds me a little of Alice Munro, a...more