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If you can't decide which new novel or nonfiction book to pick up, here's another idea: try reading a short story collection. Disclaimer: I would rather read Middlemarch or In Search of Lost Time than a short-story collection. In one particularly aching story, a man finds a bundle of letters amid the strewn wreckage of a car crash, and proceeds to carry on a therapeutic, and increasingly revealing, one-sided correspondence with their owner, onto whom he superimposes the identity of a desperate neighbor he killed decades previous. One single narrative, Story of Your Life, was even adapted into the 2016 film Arrival starring Amy Adams. Katrina Dodson, ed. Jemisin's debut short story collection includes an excerpt from her Hugo Award-winning trilogy, Broken Earth. The following books were chosen after much debate (and several rounds of voting) by the BOOKPULP staff. Feel free to add any favorites we’ve missed in the comments below. In his critically acclaimed second short story collection, Saunders  uses his thrilling imagination to write about an odd, alternate version of America that, at times, strikingly resembles our own. This posthumous collection of the Nobel Prize winner's work contains classics such as Hills Like White Elephant and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. List RulesAnthologies and edited collections of short fiction. “Good Hunting” begins as a folktale about a demon-hunting father-son duo in a small Chinese village and ends with a critique of British colonialism and modernity in Hong Kong, as well as a surprising reversal of misogynistic narrative tropes. It's time to switch up your literary diet. Throughout her thought-provoking narratives, she seamlessly takes readers to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans and the Jim Crow South. –Jonny Diamond, Editor in Chief. “Coherence is mutilation,” a character reflects at one point, “I want disorder”—an urge that Lispector understands and brings to life with more power than almost any writer I can think of, and perhaps with more relevance and urgency in these times than in any other in the four decades since her death. Her Body and Other Parties is a masterful reimagining of what the gothic can do and be, creating a world in which the tremendous weight of being a woman is chillingly palpable throughout nearly all of the stories. This collection of sci-fi writer Chiang's first eight stories leads readers through various fantastical worlds and ideas, such as that of a man building a tower to heaven. Tears were spilled, feelings were hurt, books were re-read. –Emily Firetog, Deputy Editor. Gaiman's Newberry Medal and Hugo Award-winning collection of stories and poems includes items previously published in other anthologies and magazines. Salinger may be best known for The Catcher in the Rye, however, some of his most popular prose—including For Esmé—with Love and Squalor and A Perfect Day for Bananafish—is packed into this collection. Many of the stories in Her Bodies and Other Parties contain echoes of the images and themes that so often constellate gothic literature and “the gothic” as a mode or atmosphere of writing: ghosts, beheadings, violence, trauma, claustrophobic environments, a pervading sense of unease or uncertainty. When Berlin writes of last-chance bus depots or cheap borderland hotels or third-rate nursing homes she does so minus the literary tourist’s appropriative bravado, that triumphalist wild boy tick that seems to define so much of the fiction of her male contemporaries. “Though Ms. Munro has not become judgmental exactly, she seems more focused on the selfishness, irrationality and carelessness people are capable of.”. Short stories and the collections of them can be more popular as readers are busier and only have time to devote to a short story instead of a novel. Barrett’s mastery of the short story form won him the Guardian First Book Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honor. She writes: “I believe they are the first and last—and the closest—things I have to say about my own life.” They too are wonderful. A master of supernatural fiction, Carter puts her own dark, sensual spin on classic gothic folk and fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Puss in Boots. Is it all that remarkable that a short story collection by a writer who died in 2004 should, in fact, be one of the best collections of the decade that followed? One single narrative, Story of Your Life, was even adapted into the 2016 film Arrival starring Amy Adams. The title story, for example, is about a world ravaged by climate change, where a group of scientists try, by the creation of a “formula,” to undo what has been done and make it so the human body can defy gravity. These stories and characters are not flashy, there’s little in the way of high concept; it’s simply that Munro knows people, and represents them so accurately, so wisely, and so humanely, that you can’t help but be moved. We may earn commission from the links on this page. The protagonist, born of a Chinese immigrant mother and white father, grows up loving the origami animals that his mother brings to life with her breath, only to spurn his Chinese heritage as he grows older. Women are harassed in the stories, as much by people as by the unsettling atmospheres around them. The flaws in this hubristic, quick-fix mindset are immediately revealed when the eponymous man falls from the sky. In his reverie he remembers how nature marked the season it happened: “Late that Spring, a swarm of grasshoppers moved though Beatty on their way to the alfalfa fields down south. They were thick and fierce, rolling like a thunderstorm in your head.” It’s remarkable to come across a debut collection in which the voice, the vision, is so fully formed, so assured, but that’s what Watkins has achieved with this exceptional work. by N.K. List of the best collections of short stories with most written by one author or stories edited into a compilation that have the same theme. Another story in the collection “What Is A Volcano?” reflects a similar human urge to play god, drawing on myth and literally presenting feuding gods who argue over each other’s primacy. Take, for example, “State Change,” a bleak office rom-com set in a world where people’s souls are physical objects—an ice cube, a cigarette pack, a beech tree branch—that must be protected from mundane things like hot weather and nicotine addiction. It may not be my actual favorite, but the story I think about most often from this collection is “The Beach Boy”—which may be because, as a committed hypochondriac, I am in constant fear of dying the way Marcia does in this story, but also because of the expert unspooling of her husband once she’s gone. It’s complicated to include a “complete stories” collection in our list for the best of the decade, not least because Clarice Lispector has been considered Brazil’s greatest writer more or less since 1943 when her revolutionary debut novel, Near to the Wild Heart, was first published (she was 23). Score A book’s total score is based on multiple factors, including the number of people who have voted for it and how highly those voters ranked the book. Proudly powered by WordPress Nearly all stories are based in the exact small town where Faulkner was born and lived during his lifetime, offering insight into the mind of a literary legend. They are all basically realist, if dark, psychological portraits, but there’s something fabulistic about them—Moshfegh pushes humanity to its logical extension, and the results are grotesque and poignant. Claire Vaye Watkins’ searing, Nevada-set debut collection—which includes a sixty-page novella that takes place during the 1848 Gold Rush and a dazzling, devastating opening tale in which Watkins audaciously blends fiction, local history, and myth with the story of father’s involvement in the Manson Family during the late ’60s—is as starkly beautiful, as lonesome and sinister and death-haunted, as the desert frontier through which its stories roam. From New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld’s dazzling first collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It, to National Book Award winner Denis Johnson’s final collection, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, there’s something for every book lover … It’s not quite surrealism—maybe I would call it slime-coated realism. Set in chronological order, the book—packed with her detailed prose and dark, humorous voice—is a reminder that she's one of the 20th century's greats. Rather than focus on a singular narrative, these unique options weave together the voices of several writers, or focus on multiple stories by an author you know and love.

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