Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Sunday Salon and Tell Me a Story... Short Story Collections


When I was a kid, I loved bedtime stories! I still love them now, but they take the form of a different genre... Short Stories. Sometimes you just don't have time to invest in a full length novel, but you hunger to read all the same.

There are many great writers who love writing short stories. Ray Bradbury is famous for writing a short story every day. William Sydney Porter, also known as O'Henry, was such a beloved short story writer that there is an award in his name, the O'Henry Award. Who hasn't read Edgar Allen Poe or Washington Irving, both wonderful short story writers, during the month of October? Alice Munro even won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and she ONLY writes short stories.

Where to find some great short stories? Here are 3 newly published collections that may satisfy that late night snack called reading...

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel... Penetrating characterization, unsparing eye, and rascally intelligence are fully on display in this collection of stories. Mantel's classic wicked humor in each story—which range from a ghost story to a vampire story to near-memoir to mini-sagas of family and social fracture—brilliantly unsettles the reader in that unmistakably Mantel way. Mantel brutally and acutely writes about gender, marriage, class, family, and sex, cutting to the core of human experience. Unpredictable, diverse, and even shockingly unexpected, each story grabs you by the throat within a couple of sentences.

Hilary Mantel has won numerous literary awards, including 2 Man Booker Prizes, and now offers us up some of that great writing in smaller tidbits. This has gotten a lot of great press and I have put it on my TBR list! 

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood... A recently widowed fantasy writer is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband. An elderly lady with Charles Bonnet’s syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly-formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence. A woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire. And a crime committed long-ago is revenged in the Arctic via a 1.9 billion year old stromatalite. In these nine tales, Margaret Atwood ventures into the shadowland earlier explored by fabulists and concoctors of dark yarns such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Daphne du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Margaret Atwood, famous for her speculative fiction (that's kind of like science fiction without all the interstellar travel) gives us a sampling of her writing with her take on short stories. No stranger to short stories, these stories from Margaret Atwood should prove satisfying as always. Another book on my wish list!

What Happened Here, a novella & stories by Bonnie ZoBell...  A  wildly different cast of characters living on the same block in North Park, San Diego, site of the PSA Flight 182 crash in 1978. The crash is history, but its legacy seeps in the stories of the neighborhood’s inhabitants, bringing grief, anxiety, and rebellion to the surface and eventually assists in burning clean the lives of those who live in the shadow of disaster. Amidst the pathos of contemporary life, humor flits through these stories like the macaws that have taken to the trees of North Park. The birds ensure that there’s never a dull moment in the neighborhood, and their outrageous colors and noisome squawks serve as constant reminds of regrowth.

I was excited to receive this short story collection to review because the stories sounded so grounded. Stories about real people dealing with real situations. The reviews for this book have been wonderful and Bonnie ZoBell, even though she is not a household name (yet), has won numerous accolades and awards for her writing. I'm looking forward to cracking the spine on Bonnie's collection of stories and will be reviewing it soon!

So, do you read short stories? I know a lot of readers who don't, because they feel that these collections are not "real" books. I don't prefer short stories, but it is a nice escape. Any recommendations for our short story reading?! Let me know what some of your favorite short stories are! In the meantime...

Happy reading... Suzanne

2 comments:

thecuecard said...

Yes. I'm interested in reading both the Atwood and Mantel short story collections. I have not heard of ZoBell yet. I've read and like a couple of Munro's collections, but in general I don't read a ton of short stories but every once in awhile they are good. Tim Winton's short story collection The Turning is also good. Enjoy. http://www.thecuecard.com

Suzanne Yester said...

Thanks for the recommendation on Tim Winton. I do like a couple of Munro's stories too, but like you I'm not really a big short story reader. These that I posted seem interesting and I've got Bonnie's collection to read, so I'll let you know how her's is.

Thanks for stopping by!

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