Armchair BEA: Day 3 Short Stories/Novellas

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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Now it is time to give a little love to those little stories in your life. Share your love for your favorite shorts of any form. What is a short story or novella that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves? Recommend to readers what shorts you would recommend they start with. How about listing some short story anthologies based upon genres or authors?

This is a fascinating topic for me because I have such a hard time getting in to short stories. Looking back over years and years of reading and well over a thousand books read, I can see that only a handful are short story collections and I read most of those during college. I even took a class on short stories and loved it but have not been able to return to the form as an adult.

I think it has something to do with the experience I'm looking to have as a reader. I like to feel total immersion in a world, in a character, in the author's voice and a 20-page (or less) story simply goes too fast for those things to happen in my reading experience.

That said, here are some of the short story collections I've read and enjoyed:

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri  - I think I like Lahiri's short stories because they feel more like novels. She covers whole lifetimes in stories and avoids that overly self-aware language that a lot of short stories seem to have.

Lost in the City by Edward Jones - I actually read this collection of stories about life in Washington, DC years before I moved here. I still go back to this collection and read about now-familiar streets and neighborhoods with great interest.

Selected Stories by Andre Dubus - Who can argue with the master? I like the spiritual undertones to his stories and his sense of compassion and empathy. I think a lot of short stories turn me away because of their relentless hopelessness.

(And one that is kind of a cheat):

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman - This is a more of a novel in short stories and its about journalists at a failing news organization in Italy so I couldn't help being drawn in.

I would love to hear from other readers who have a similar hang-up about short stories. Did you overcome it? How did you make that mental leap to start enjoying short stories? Any tips?


barefootmeds said...

Hah, I mentioned Interpreter of Maladies on my post today as well! I haven't read any of the others you mentioned, but I will look into them.

Leila @ Readers' Oasis said...

I feel the same way about short stories, which is why I have generally avoided them. For example, I've never read "Interpreter of Maladies," even though I feel like I SHOULD because I love Lahiri's novels. I'd love some tips on overcoming the hang-up as well!

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

Hi Leila: You are in for a treat if you haven't read her short stories yet! I think "Interpreter of Maladies" is a stronger collection than "Unaccustomed Earth" but i still enjoyed it.

Historical Fiction Notebook said...

Hi barefootmeds - cool blog name!

eveningreader said...

That Andre Dubus collection is great and I always forget about it! I also enjoyed Interpreter of Maladies and her other collection, Unaccustomed Earth. Clever to think of The Imperfectionists! I agree. Another one like that is A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. She herself says she doesn't really consider it a novel, even though it was marketed as one.

West Virginia Red said...

I am just not a short story reader. And with the crazy busy life I lead you would think they would be perfect.

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