Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Sunday Salon and Read Me a Story... 4 Short Story Collections You Need to Read NOW!

Welcome to The Sunday Salonwhere bloggers from all over the world talk about all things bookish is a virtual library! And The Sunday Post, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which more bloggers share their bookish news! It's that day of the week we chat about books! So find yourself a comfy chair, grab a cup of joe and let's talk... Stories! Yes, sometimes the short story collection gets the short end of the reading pile, doesn't it? But why?! Didn't we all like bedtime stories when we were children?! Stories short enough to be fulfilling and yet easily read in a limited about of time? I generally don't read short stories, and I think it's because if the story is really good, I want more, and if it's not good, I feel like I wasted my time, and do I really want to continue with the rest of the stories in a collection after that? I really enjoyed  You're Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck by Bill Heavey, but these were more like essays, I guess because these "stories" were not fiction. And if I think about it, I do enjoy reading stories in The New Yorker and other publications. But... I've heard about so many great short story collections in the past month, that I am willing to give it my all and try some. The first three lady writers here are new to me, but I've had Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird on my TBR list for a while. All of them have gotten rave reviews for these short story collections! Here we go...

Honeydew by Edith Pearlman...Over the past several decades, Edith Pearlman has staked her claim as one of the all-time great practitioners of the short story. Her incomparable vision, consummate skill, and bighearted spirit have earned her consistent comparisons to Anton Chekhov, John Updike, Alice Munro, Grace Paley, and Frank O'Connor. Her latest work, gathered in this stunning collection of twenty new stories, is an occasion for celebration. Pearlman writes with warmth about the predicaments of being human. The title story involves an affair, an illegitimate pregnancy, anorexia, and adolescent drug use, but the true excitement comes from the evocation of the interior lives of young Emily Knapp, who wishes she were a bug, and her inner circle. "The Golden Swan" transports the reader to a cruise ship with lavish buffets-and a surprise stowaway-while the lead story, "Tenderfoot," follows a widowed pedicurist searching for love with a new customer anguishing over his own buried trauma. Whether the characters we encounter are a special child with pentachromatic vision, a group of displaced Somali women adjusting to life in suburban Boston, or a staid professor of Latin unsettled by a random invitation to lecture on the mystery of life and death, Pearlman knows each of them intimately and reveals them to us with unsurpassed generosity. In prose as knowing as it is poetic, Pearlman shines a light on small, devastatingly precise moments to reflect the beauty and grace found in everyday life.These stories are a crowning achievement for a brilliant career and demonstrate once more that Pearlman is a master of the form whose vision is unfailingly wise and forgiving.

Edith Pearlman has won 3 O. Henry Awards, a Pen/Faulkner Award and numerous other literary honors, and yet she is not very well known. Her last short story collection, Binocular Vision, helped put her name out there, but she still remains a bit obscure. I definitely want to read Honeydew and have it on my TBR list now. I actually checked to see if my library carried it, and they did... EXCEPT, whoever checked it out NEVER returned it and it's been 3 months. Does this mean that it was THAT good?! In any case, here is a great piece from The New Yorker about Pearlman and her writing. And follow this link to Little, Brown and company to read Tenderfoot, one of the short stories in Honeydew! 

A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin... A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With the grit of Raymond Carver, the humor of Grace Paley, and a blend of wit and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the Laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians. Readers will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they'd ever overlooked her in the first place.

This is suppose to be a more "grittier" collection of stories, but fantastic none the less. Thesis on my TBR pile as well. You can learn more about Lucia Berlin at her website. Lot's of great insight there! Here is a link to Vice Media, where you can read the short story, Friends, which is from A Manual For Cleaning Women. 

American Housewife by Helen Ellis... A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity, American Housewife features murderous ladies who lunch, celebrity treasure hunters, and the best bra fitter south of the Mason Dixon line. Meet the women of American Housewife: they wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it's cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. They pump the salad spinner like it's a CPR dummy. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies out of the oven. These twelve irresistible stories take us from a haunted prewar Manhattan apartment building to the set of a rigged reality television show, from the unique initiation ritual of a book club to the getaway car of a pageant princess on the lam, from the gallery opening of a tinfoil artist to the fitting room of a legendary lingerie shop. Vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster, American Housewife is an uproarious, pointed commentary on womanhood.

This collection of short stories is more light-hearted and filled with a bit of wry humor. It's a slim book of 185 pages, which I know because I just checked this out of my library. I've been reading these stories for the last few days and have for the most part really enjoyed them! They are funny and have a wonderful tongue in cheek way about them. They are contemporary in nature too.  I'll be reviewing this collection next week though, so come back to hear the full scoop. And I know size doesn't matter (right?!), but I love those small gift size books and that's what this is. I could not find a sample of any of the stories, but here is an interesting interview of Helen Ellis by Elle magazine. 

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi... Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).  Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation?

These stories sound fascinating to me. I definitely plan on reading this and can't wait to see how keys literally fit into all these stories! There is an interesting piece written on Helen Oyeyemi by Annalisa Quinn for NPR online, and HERE is the link.

Weekly Update... 
This week we started off with Memoir Monday and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, who wrote his memoir after being diagnosed with lung cancer and having to switch roles from Doctor to patient. I also put up a video of Paul talking about his diagnosis and his decision to have a child with his wife even though his prognosis was not good. Very heartbreaking. Click on Memoir Monday above to read the post and watch the video.

Tuesday we talked briefly about the NEW Beatrix Potter book coming out! A long lost manuscript of her children's book The Tale of Kitty in Boots will be published this fall for Beatrix's 150th birthday! Here is the link for, Did Ya Hear About... 

First Lines Friday (yes, on friday) brought us to Kenya and the first lines of Paula Mclain's book, Circling the SunWould YOU keep reading after those first lines? Click on the First Lines Friday link above to read them if you haven't.

Two reviews went up this week too! First on friday, Beat, Slay, Love by Thalia Filbert is a culinary who dun it, with serious complications for the TV Chefs involved. Click on the link to see if it tasted good to me! And saturday I brought you Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. A wonderful children's picture book with a grumpy bear and 4 baby goslings, who were suppose to be hard boiled, but became hard to turn away! Click on Mother Bruce to read my review.
So, what do YOU think about short stories and short story collections? I guess the short story collection is alive and well. It's a great way to sample a writer without investing in a full length novel (that is if they have one yet) and you do see many writers come back to the short story after writing novels. It's also a great way to read a little bit before nodding off to sleep... like a bedtime story (for adults!) Hope you've found something interesting to read here today! And please share any short story collections you have enjoyed! (And since I'm reading American Housewife, I will be able to cross off one more square on my Book Bingo card! The "A Poetry or Short Story Collection". That's 6 squares picked off already! Are you playing Book Bingo? How many squares have you completed?!)

Happy reading... Suzanne

P.S. To celebrate the release of Stephen King's recent short story collection (Bazaar of Bad Dreams) King's publisher and the Guardian hosted a short story competition in which 800 short stories were submitted! After the stories were short listed to 6, Stephen King picked Elodie Harper as winner with Wild Swimming. (Click on Wild Swimming to read the story!) And if you're up for creepy, last year Nicholas Cage came out with a horror movie called Pay the Ghost, about a missing child that had supernatural reasons. That movie was based on a short story by Tim Lebbon called Pay the Ghost and is available for Kindle for .99cents. Here's the link for the Kindle Book if you're interested. 


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I do enjoy short story collections that have a theme, and all of yours look tempting. Thanks for sharing and enjoy.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Harvee said...

I should read more short stories. These look very interesting!

Laura Greenwood said...

I sometimes enjoy short stories, but they're not always for me it must be said! Have a great week and happy reading!

Laura @

thecuecard said...

I don't read short story collections often but these ones look good. I have read a few of Alice Munro's collections as well as Raymond Carver's. Both I like. I will check out "Wild Swimming" -- thx

Suzanne Yester said...

Yes, Laurel-Rain Snow, having a theme in a collection does make it much nicer to read.

Thanks for stopping by!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Harvee, Yes, I am guilty of not reading short stories, but I am reading American Housewife and enjoying it! Of course I feel obligated to finish American Housewife, but I think that reading short stories in a collection can't be done properly in one sitting. It feels like I'm racing through if I read more than one or two at night.

Thanks for stopping by!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Laura!
Yes, I'm not really a short story kinda girl, but have sat down with American Housewife and am enjoying it. It is a small collection of stories, so I don't feel overwhelmed, because if I'm really going to sink my teeth in something big, want it to be a phenomenal story book!

Thanks for coming by!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Susan,
Yes, I've read a few Alice Munro stories and enjoyed them. And come to think about it I read a collection that included Broke Back Mountain from Annie Proulx and liked it. But as much as I try, short story collections will probably always take a back seat to a big juicy piece of fiction.

Thanks for stopping by!

Morgan said...

I don't typically dabble in short story collections unless I have to [or it's Stephen King because I was all over that one]. However, What is Not Yours is Not Yours sounds extremely interesting. I'll have to check that out!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Morgan!
Yes, I was able to check out American Housewife from the library or What is Not Yours is not yours would have been the first of these collections that I was going to read. But we'll have to wait until March for that one!

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