From Category: Short Stories
Top stories from the Cowboy Up contest. Edited by R.L. Coffield
This enjoyable collection of short fiction in the Western genre features the top stories from the Cowboy Up contest sponsored by Moonlight Mesa Associates. The book includes adventure tales, humor, and romance, in settings both modern and historical.
By Francine Witte
The men and women who populate this flash fiction chapbook don't have much time. They do desperate, magical, outrageous things to bridge the all-too-ordinary distances between them, the indifference of lovers and the clumsiness of communication. The rare happy marriage can almost survive the world's end, it seems, whereas for many others, even a trip to outer space won't rekindle the fire. This chapbook won the 2010 Thomas A. Wilhelmus Award from RopeWalk Press.
By Kathie Giorgio
This gorgeous collection of linked stories from Main Street Rag is comprised of variations on the theme of the Fat Girl. All the unnamed protagonists share this mythic epithet and all are employed at the Large & Luscious Large Women's Clothing Boutique in a prototypical shopping mall, but beyond that, they are individuals who gloriously resist social stereotyping and invisibility.
The 19th-century Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote some of our most beloved fairy tales, such as "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Little Mermaid"
This website includes the full text of many of his stories in the 1872 English translation by H.P. Paull, plus links to biographical information and other resources.
By David Schickler
Brilliantly written novel-in-stories seduces the reader with witty sketches of Manhattanites in love and lust, but what began as social comedy ends as a surprisingly moving tale of darkness and redemption. Aspiring short story writers should study Schickler's way with the details that reveal character and milieu.
By Randall Brown
A pregnant woman develops a craving for bugs. A couple bond over the failure of their wife-swapping party. A father consoles his child over the dinosaurs' extinction, while wishing his own parents had allowed him to believe in heaven. These are some of the seeds from which spring Randall Brown's quirky, brilliant, heart-rending short-short stories. This collection won the 2007-08 Flume Press Fiction Chapbook Competition. Their book design is also a standout.
Edited by Kate Bernheimer
Dark, innovative, beautiful, strange variations on classic fairy tales from around the world. Some stories remain within the fantasy-horror genre, while others reenact the fairy tale's psychological themes in a contemporary realist setting. Each story is followed by the author's reflections on the source material and how it inspired them. Notable contributors include playwright Neil LaBute, poets Joyelle McSweeney, Kim Addonizio, and Sabrina Orah Mark, and fiction writers Michael Cunningham and Gregory Maguire. This book is not appropriate for normal children.
Edited by Kate Wheeler
Innovative collection of short stories that integrate Buddhist precepts into contemporary settings. Some of the pieces use form as well as content to explore Buddhist concerns with present awareness and change.
By George Saunders
Enter the deranged theme park of this unique writer's imagination, in surreal tales that exaggerate the insincere cheer of mass-media corporate culture to show the ruthlessness beneath. Beneath Saunders' manic wit lies a fierce compassion for misfits waging a losing battle for authenticity in a world of manufactured messages.
By James Morrison
The stories in this collection from Black Lawrence Press explore the nuances of feeling and the power dynamics of intimate moments between family members, lovers, and strangers, in a way that is deeply insightful without over-explaining. Morrison's vision of human nature contains shades of Shirley Jackson and Flannery O'Connor, though written in a more restrained style. These stories always leave the reader with the sense that there is more to the characters than the chosen anecdote can reveal.
By Harlan Ellison
If there's hope for Harlan Ellison and his dark, existential science fiction, there's hope for us all. From the back cover, "When I told Houghton Mifflin that Jesus Christ had given me a quote to help promote Slippage, boy, did they go ballistic! It was a great quote, a real 'money quote'. Jesus said, 'I love Ellison's writing. I'd have a Second Coming, or even slouch toward Bethlehem, just to read this new collection!'"
By Neil Gaiman
Author of the acclaimed Sandman graphic novels mashes up literary classics, myths famous and obscure, and the conventions of the fantasy genre, with effects that are sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, and always a witty tour de force. Some of the best selections derive their humor from the collision between the mythic and the mundane, as when an elderly British widow finds the Holy Grail in a thrift shop, or the inhabitants of H.P. Lovecraft's Innsmouth behave like characters in a Monty Python skit.
By Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr
The cut pages of this illustrated book can be recombined to create a multitude of delightfully absurd tales. This particular offering is most suitable for adults, but Swanson and Behr, the husband-and-wife team behind Idiots' Books, also publish equally zany materials for children.
Edited by Amy Tan and Katrina Kenison
A particularly fine installment of this annual series, the 1999 anthology includes a wide spectrum of styles and ethnic backgrounds, with emotionally compelling tales that leave the reader with much to ponder. Standouts include Nathan Englander's 'The Tumblers', which casts the shadow of the Holocaust over Yiddish folklore's mythical village of Chelm; Sheila Kohler's 'Africans', a quietly chilling account of a family's disintegration under apartheid; and Heidi Julavits' 'Marry the One Who Gets There First', an unlikely love story told through wedding-album outtakes.
By Louis L'Amour
The famed writer of Westerns was also a master of the hard-boiled crime story. These action-packed noir tales are populated with treacherous dames, mobsters, prizefighters, coal miners, scam artists, and decent guys trying to survive against the odds.
By Steve Almond
The often absurd and exaggerated premises of these witty tales heighten our compassion for the hapless protagonists who seek love and sex in urban America, but rarely hang on to either one for long. Almond chronicles life's freakshow in the same spirit as Flannery O'Connor's grotesque: to shock us into solidarity with one another and compassion for our abnormal secret selves.
Edited by Susan Koppelman
This important anthology from The Feminist Press spans a century of women's short fiction. The large women who populate these stories may be sensual goddesses, lesbian feminists, sideshow performers, battered wives, or troubled teens, but each poses a question about our discomfort with embodiment and female power. A bonus feature of this anthology is an excellent critical essay by Koppelman, a literary historian and the leading expert on short fiction by US women. View her author page at The Feminist Press website for other themed anthologies in this series.
Edited by Tobias Wolff
Every story is a masterpiece of voice, setting, and emotional depth in this collection of short fiction from the 1970s and '80s. Contributors include Dorothy Allison, Allan Gurganus, Mary Gaitskill, Ron Hansen, Chris Offutt, Susan Power and John Edgar Wideman. This anthology stands out for the genuine diversity of its authors and subject matter (race, class, gender, location, historical period) and the absence of intellectual anomie and cynicism: something truly human is at stake in every tale.
By Richard Russo
Deftly drawn portraits of intimate relationships explore how the people closest to us may be the most mysterious. In the title piece, an elderly nun in a fiction writing class writes her memoirs in defiance of the teacher's expectations, but the exercise reveals that the true story is different from what she had thought it to be. Other pieces gently probe the strengths and weaknesses of long-married couples, and how they are held together as much by the fictions they believe as by the truths they know about one another.
By Linda McCullough Moore
This luminous collection of linked stories takes the risk of positing a universe where tragedy and confusion do not get the last word. The narrator's acerbic wit and unsparing assessments of human nature, particularly her own, earn credibility for the moments of grace that always break in to redeem her family's love-hate relationships.
By William Trevor
Small masterpieces of melancholy from acclaimed Irish writer. Like a scalpel, Trevor's prose is delicate yet piercing, exposing unnamed but all-too-familiar psychological truths about his characters and ourselves.
Edited by S. Craig Renfroe, Jr.
This short fiction anthology from Main Street Rag celebrates the creativity and perseverance of women who don't play by normal rules. The eclectic cast of characters includes an HIV-positive senior citizen, a spunky lesbian drama teacher fighting her school's bureaucracy, and a teenage girl with a crush on Abe Lincoln.
By Adam Haslett
Flawless prose captures emotions that are almost too subtle for words. Though his dark themes may seem familiar to readers of literary fiction (several tales feature bereavement and mental illness), these stories shine with moments of wisdom discovered and hard-won love, lifting them far above most examples of the genre.