For Staff Picks this time, I’ve amassed a listing of many different kinds of short stories. We have your Good Standards (Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty), which always bear a second look. See these stories in a new way, and realize why these writers are often called "Masters of the Short Form". For those of you who want to be immersed in a fully tangible world for the whole book, I recommend Olive Kitteridge as the stories are linked by characters as well as place and theme. For our mystery readers, I cannot recommend Ruth Rendell’s short stories enough. No one is a better writer of contemporary thrilling shorts.
But where I think short stories really truly shine is in…well, in their Weirdness. Poe was an early master, and he knew well that this kind of intensity was better in several small doses. Angela Carter makes use of fairy tales and reworks them to mirror our adult lives. And Caitlin Kiernan’s Two Worlds and in Between is a life’s work of short stories, and while I will say that they are “not for everyone”, there are those of us who never quite get over them, and dream about them after many years. And Borges…well, I don’t quite know what to say about Borges. Read the story “The Library at Babel” and you will know all about it.
Finally one of my favorite things about short stories is The Anthology. Unlike the Poe or the Aimee Bender, collections of stories written by one author, anthologies are compiled of short stories by many different writers. They are assembled by en editor with some goal in mind – one that might seem familiar is a “Best Of” anthology. But these are not my favorites, generally. I like “Themed Anthologies” where the stories are centered around certain types of mysteries, or images or genres. I’ve found some of my favorite authors through their contributions to anthologies, and think it’s a great way to explore new work. Ellen Datlow, one of the best editors living today compiled Supernatural Noir, and I just can’t say enough about English Country House Murders.
So try some thing new, try something old. Either way, we hope you enjoy them.
TWO WORLDS AND IN BETWEEN, Caitlin Kiernan
20TH CENTURY GHOSTS, Joe Hill
DELICATE EDIBLE BIRDS, Lauren Groff
THE COMPLETE STORIES, Flannery O'Connor
BLUEBEARD’S EGG, Margaret Atwood
LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF STORIES, A.S. Byatt
THE GIRL IN THE FLAMMABLE SKIRT, Aimee Bender
THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU, Susanna Clarke
WILL YOU PLEASE BE QUIET, PLEASE?, Raymond Carver
BURNING YOUR BOATS, Angela Carter
PASTORALIA, George Saunders
OLIVE KITTERIDGE, Elizabeth Strout
THE KNIFE THROWER, Steven Millhauser
CARRY ON, JEEVES, P.G. Wodehouse
LABYRINTHS; SELECTED STORIES, Jorge Luis Borges
THE GOLDEN BALL: AND OTHER STORIES, Agatha Christie
THE COPPER PEACOCK: AND OTHER STORIES, Ruth Rendell
BIRDS OF AMERICA: STORIES, Lorrie Moore
STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN, Kelly Link
DON’T LOOK NOW, Daphne duMaurier
TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION, Edgar A. Poe
BLIND WILLOW, SLEEPING WOMAN, Haruki Murakami