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Topic: Little Gems: Short Stories

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Subject: Little Gems: Short Stories
Date Posted: 4/30/2009 6:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I love reading short stories. They're...well...short and they don't require a huge committment. Some readers don't like shorts too much because many seem to go nowhere or just end abruptly. When they do, I think the reader may have missed the point of the story.

I am enjoying Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer winner, Interpreter of Maladies. True to SS form, some of these gems leave you thinking: Is that it? Then I go back and try to figure out what the point was, I usually find it. Shorts may be quick reads, but sometimes if you go to fast, you can miss foreshadowing and theme.

What are your favorite short story authors? I've read some of Alice Munro, Shirley Jackson, Eudora Welty, Alice Walker, Doris Lessing, Flannery O' Connor, Frank O' Connor, Ernest Gaines, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf and more.

Can you tell I have a short story anthology book?

Last Edited on: 4/30/09 7:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/1/2009 11:40 AM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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I love short stories!  I love a story that covers a short period of time and quickly comes to a point.  Some of my favorite short story writers are Edgar Allen Poe and F Scott Fitzgerald.  Their stories tend to be dark and full of mystery.

But for uplifting and feel-good short stories, I recommend A CUP OF COMFORT series edited by Colleen Sell.  These stories are great when ever you need (a kick in the pants) a little inspiration in your life!

Last Edited on: 2/5/13 4:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/1/2009 12:40 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 230
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Laura, you can't go wrong with Alices!  Try Alice Adams.

Another great short story writer is Carol Shields.  I especially liked Getting Dressed for the Carnival.  And I really like Chitra Divakaruni's short stories.

Date Posted: 5/1/2009 6:20 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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I can't say enough wonderful things about Kelly Link's two collections - Magic For Beginners and Stranger Things Happen.  Karen Russell's St.Lucy's Home For Girls Raised by Wolves is great, too.


Date Posted: 5/1/2009 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2009
Posts: 33
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Laura, if you like J.D. Salinger, I thought his Nine Stories were terrific (and I don't usually like short stories)!

Date Posted: 5/4/2009 5:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2008
Posts: 2
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Lorrie Moore!  I just finished Self Help and I can't wait to get my hands on another collection.

Date Posted: 5/4/2009 5:57 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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Flannery O'Connor.

I also have deep love for Nine Stories.  I'm a Glass-a-holic, I suppose.

Date Posted: 5/5/2009 10:09 AM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
Posts: 364
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Laura, if you love Interpreter of Maladies then you need to read Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth.  Another set of short stories that I enjoyed even more that IoM.  She is a great writer.

Date Posted: 5/5/2009 1:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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DANCING GIRLS AND OTHER STORIES by Margaret Atwood.  She writes about motivations and complexities of relationships.  This is a good read if you enjoy dark wit and unsentimental stories.

Date Posted: 5/5/2009 3:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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Nine Stories is fantastic, each of them is memorable and darkly funny.  I just finished Joe Hill's anthology 20th Century Ghosts which was wonderful, not all the stories are strictly speaking "ghost" stories, but they were all marvelous.  Two others I read recently were Just After Sunset by Stephen King and The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder by Patricia Highsmith (she's an amazing writer).

I'm a sucker for classic ghost stories, usually by Victorian authors from the golden age of ghost stories, so I really love Guy DuMaupassant, M.R. James, Bram Stoker, Ambrose Bierce, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde etc.

Also O.Henry, and Charlotte Perkins' The Yellow Wallpaper, but Poe is hands down the best dark short story writer.  My favorite comic short story writer is definitely P.G. Wodehouse, he's hilarious.

If anyone's a short story fan and has iTunes, there's a free podcast called The Classic Tales Podcast that gives a new short story every week.  Its fantastic, I'm totally addicted to it.

Last Edited on: 5/5/09 3:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Favorite short story
Date Posted: 5/18/2009 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2009
Posts: 64
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Not an author, but a short story: Harrison Bergeron-absolutely fantastic-was made into a feature length movie on Showtime in the 90's. Very good movie if you like stuff like Gataca.

Date Posted: 5/18/2009 10:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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MURDER ON SUNSET BOULEVARD is written by Members of Sisters in Crime. Twelve short stories about the dark side of this glamorous street.  I think mystery buffs would enjoy this compelling anthology.

Subject: Love short stories!
Date Posted: 5/20/2009 12:46 AM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 167
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Alice Munro and Joyce Carol Oates are my choices for totally absorbing reads!Cynthia Ozick also has pretty interesting predicaments for her characters. I recently read a very eerie but touching short story by Nabokov called "Signs and Symbols" which I recommend. There are these really interesting collections of Russian shorts in our library that I have enjoyed, you get a different flavor of reality reading the International collections. Since I am interested in actually writing some stories, I have been collecting them lately,

Granta series also has some interesting themes and accomplished writers writing on that specific theme.

Last Edited on: 12/8/10 2:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 5/20/2009 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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I'm a big fan of Lahiri and Poe. Others I like:

Joan Silber, Ideas of Heaven - six interconnected short stories.

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman - 12 stories connected by the house they take place in. This is my favorite book by Hoffman.

Franz Kafka - he is most well known for Metamorphosis but In the Penal Colony is quite thought provoking.

Guy de Maupassant - great insight into the human nature of people during the 19th century. Boule de suif is excellent.

Date Posted: 6/15/2009 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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I'm resurrecting this to add:

caviglia mentioned Kelly Link. I agree, she's amazing. I liked Pretty Monsters better than Magic for Beginners. But both are wonderful. I have not read Stranger Things Happen Yet.

Other short story authors I'm currently in love with:

Angela Carter
Margo Lanagan

Last Edited on: 6/15/09 6:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1

Date Posted: 6/29/2009 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2009
Posts: 36
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"You're Ugly Too" by Loorie Moore. It's hilarious!
Subject: sureal short stories
Date Posted: 8/2/2010 4:09 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 167
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Two that I have read lately :

The Renegade by Shirley Jackson : about a nice family who moves to the country and thier dog Lady.no spoilers but this story is really creepy...and really good!

Loopy by Ruth Rendall: About a guy about to marry a shrew and how he gains empowerment from animal costume and his mother. Funny and creepy! made a fan of me! I found both and more in a collection called Haunting Women, includes the famous "Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

 From Writing Class at the Loft in Mpls: This is a good exercise if you have trouble grasping what the writer is saying in a short story. Right after you read the story, write down what you remember happening in the story, in order if you can, and then go read it again and see if your summary changes. This doesn't have to be for anybody but you. It really has helped me in memory,close reading, grasping plot/theme, and even writing skills. You could even critique the story when you are done, if you want to.

Last Edited on: 8/2/10 4:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 8/2/2010 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 188
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Great Topic!  I love Jhumpa Lahiri as well.  I think one of the best short stories of all time is the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It's hilarious! They made a movie of it starring Danny Kaye, which greatly expands on the short story but is just as funny. Highly, Highly recommend.

Another fantastic short sotry is The Yellow Wallpaper. I can't remember who wrote it, but it's FANTASTIC.

Date Posted: 8/2/2010 9:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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 I found both and more in a collection called Haunting Women

Debra, as soon as I am done typing this response I am going to go find this book! Thanks for resurrecting this thread.smiley


I wrote a short term paper on  "The Yellow Wallpaper" in an English Lit class. It's true, it's terrific. Walter Mitty, hmm, I'll have to check it out. 

Last Edited on: 8/3/10 12:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2010 7:59 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 6,525
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My all-time favorite is "The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers" by Woody Allen.  It's in his book Getting Even.  This is a series of letters between two "friends" who are playing chess by mail.  And how they cheat.  It is laugh-out-loud funny. 

 (and written long before his life turned scandalous).

Here's how it opens:  "My Dear Vardebedian, I was more than a little chagrined today, on going through the morning's mail, to find that my letter of September 16, containing my twenty-second move (knight to the king's fourth square), was returned unopened due to a small error in addressing--precisely, the omission of your name and residence (how Freudian can one get?), coupled with a failure to append postage."

Hilarity ensues. 

Date Posted: 8/3/2010 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2010
Posts: 150
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I also adore short stories!!  I love Jhumpa Lahiri as well :), but another set I really thought were nicely done was _White Swan Black Swan_ by Adrienne Sharp.  They're centered on the world of ballet and are just beautifully written, at least in my opinion!

I also love the old classics by O. Henry and Poe, and loved reading anthologies of short animal stories when I was a girl.  I couldn't read "My Friend Flicka" enough!

Date Posted: 8/3/2010 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 188
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Oh another great one is THe Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Every chapter is a short story about the owners of a lost Vermeer painting as it gets passed down over ther years. The painting is the only commonality between the stories. It is written by Susan Vreeland.

Date Posted: 8/4/2010 9:11 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2009
Posts: 62
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I really enjoy Dorothy M. Johnson's short stories of the American West.  She wrote many good stories, including "A Man Called Horse", which was originally published as "Indian Country", as well as "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". I have a book of her short stories, long out of print, that I take out and re-read pretty often.  Terrific writing.

Date Posted: 8/4/2010 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
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I read Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer winner Interpreter of Maladies last year and absolutely loved it. Up until then, I had generally avoided short stories; however, now I have come to really enjoy them.  I guess it took me getting somewhat burnt out on the number and size of the books I've been devouring to recognize what short stories can offer.  I have acquired 10 or 12 collections of them since joining PBS last September, and I have also been checking them out from the library. In fact, I just got home from the library where I returned a collection I finished called 'The Royal Game and Other Stories' by Stefan Zweig. I came home with, 'Night Games and Other Stories and novellas' by Arthur Schnitzler.  The movie 'Eyes Wide Shut' was based on a Schnitzler story called 'Dream Story' that is in the book .  It should be interesting. The Zweig book was pretty good.  Best of all, today I found a John O'Hara book called, 'The Horse Knows the Way: A Collection of 28 New Stories', in the used book sale area for $1.00.    That will have to wait awhile, though, as I'm reading from a collection now by Stephen Vincent Benet that I got here on PBS.