If you are in a reading slump, overwhelmed with chaotic news stories, but wanting a quick escape from it all, try selecting a short story for your next read. It helps me get back into my reading grove by giving me a feeling of accomplishment -- when you finish the first story in the anthology, you want to move to the next. Author of both novels and short stories, Lorrie Moore has said “A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film” so if you are looking for the book equivalent to a “This is us” episode versus watching the “Titanic,” try a short story.
Who knew Emily Carr was also an author?
The Book of Small by Emily Carr - “The legendary Emily Carr was primarily a painter, but she first gained recognition as an author. She wrote seven popular, critically acclaimed books about her journeys to remote Native communities and about her life as an artist -as well as her life as a small child in Victoria at the turn of the last century. The Book of Small is a collection of 36 short stories about a childhood in a town that still had vestiges of its pioneer past. With an uncanny skill at bringing people to life, Emily Carr tells stories about her family, neighbours, friends and strangers - who run the gamut from genteel people in high society to disreputable frequenters of saloons - as well as an array of beloved pets. All are observed through the sharp eyes and ears of a young, ever-curious and irrepressible girl, and Carr’s writing is a disarming combination of charm and devastating frankness.”
Classic Detective Fiction
The Collected Short Stories by Raymond Chandler – “Raymond Chandler is one of the most significant mystery authors in the history of the genre, helping to create hard-boiled detective fiction, and giving readers the iconic Philip Marlowe. This collection contains all 25 of his short stories, including classics such as "The Curtain" and "The King in Yellow."
It had me at the title
Herb’s Pajamas by Abigail Thomas – “Thomas’s stories have been called “fictional polariods,” because of her talent for catching the telling gesture, the revealing one-word response, the defining moment. Here she introduces us to four New York City apartment dwellers, all of whom live on a single short block on the Upper West Side. There’s Walter, whose wife has left him; Edith, a fiftyish virgin whose once-famous mother has just died; Bunny, whose sister has run away, leaving her to deal with their mother; and Belle, whose married lover has died wearing her dead husband Herb’s pajamas. As these characters struggle with their losses, their passing shadows intersect, revealing the city as a place of never-ending possibility.”
Two of my favourites: The Mist and The Raft
Skeleton Crew by Stephen King – “In this brilliant collection of twenty-two stories, Stephen King takes readers down paths that only he could imagine.... A supermarket becomes the place where humanity makes its last stand against unholy destruction...a trip to the attic turns into a journey to hell...a woman driver finds a very scary shortcut to paradise...an idyllic lake harbors a bottomless evil...and a desert island is the scene of the most terrifying struggle for survival ever waged.”
Anti-heroes, unusual style
High Lonesome by Barry Hannah – “The thirteen masterful tales in this collection by the award-winning author of Airships and Bats Out of Hell explore lost moments in time with intensity, emotion, and an eye to the past. In "Uncle High Lonesome," a young man recalls an uncle's drinking binges and the rage unleashed, hinting at dark waters of distress. Fishing is transformed into a life-altering, almost mystical event in "A Creature in the Bay of St. Louis." And in "Snerd and Niggero," a deep friendship between two men is inspired by the loss of a woman they both loved. Viewed through memory and time's distance, Barry Hannah's characters are brightly illuminated figures from a lost time, whose occasionally bleak lives are still uncommonly true.”
Short Stories for Romantics by Andrew J Salat – “The famous songwriter Cole Porter once asked, "What Is This Thing Called Love?" His question caused author Andrew J. Salat to wonder: is the condition physical, spiritual, or, as some cynics might describe, "a temporary madness of the heart"? Salat believes Mr. Porter's question is answered quite well in Short Stories for Romantics. The story "High Heels" is a haunting tale of love found and lost, told to him by an interesting airline passenger. "Adrienne's Room" takes the reader on an unforgettable roller-coaster ride. For a more spiritual journey, "High Level Meeting" seeks to bring on second thoughts about the way we live our lives. These sixteen stories take the reader on an imaginary sojourn we all must take in order to experience true love in our lives.”
Very Sensible Stories and Poems for Grown Persons by Jason Taniguchi – “Why hello, dear reader. You have in your hands a copy of Jason Taniguchi's Very Sensible Stories and Poems for Grown Persons, which just may be the most singular artefact of our times. Yes, it contains some fine stories. Yes, it also provides some pleasing poetry. But that's not all: already there are powerful forces at work upon you. Depending on your genre proclivities, this may consist of a host of automated nanobots activated by the warmth of your touch and skittering from the spine of the book onto your unsuspecting fingertips; or dark eldritch creatures from the netherworld twining their bony fingers around your spirit; or tiny invisible fairies flittering just above the typeface, pointing their little wands right at you; or, for you genre-mashing fans, perhaps tiny invisible fairies ordering dark eldritch creatures to unleash a host of automated nanobots, probably by means of some sort of steampunky device with gears and pistons and even a primitive sort of spell-check. Regardless, these forces are even now meddling with your mind, nudging your neurons, sidling up to your spirit, so that you are saying to yourself, "Hmm! This looks like just the sort of unconventional book I've been looking for!”
To find your own selection, choose Digital Library Items and search Short Stories. You can limit the search results if you are looking for a favourite author, genre or if you want a single author or anthology of multiple authors.
Some call short stories “bite-sized” fiction, but I find a good short story can leave you with an image or snapshot, intense, dramatic and lasting.