5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for December 2017

[As mentioned earlier, for November and December, I am revisiting the top ten stories featured here throughout the year.] One of the best recent essays I have read about the short story form is by Brandon Taylor. In ‘Against the Attention Economy: Short Stories Are Not Quick Literary Fixes’, he makes some excellent points. Here are just a few of them . . . All of the short stories I share each month here are ones that, if we take the time to read them with attention and patience, will beat inside of us like second hearts. For December, we have stories (all free to read online, just click the titles) from these amazing writers: Lesley Nneka Arimah; John Cheever; Amy Tan; Karen Shepard; and Michael Cunningham. Enjoy. Oh, and in case you missed them, I also had two short stories published in Jet Fuel Review and Kweli Journal. The latter has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for December 2017

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Marginalia: George Eliot

November 22 was George Eliot’s birthdate. She has been one of my early favorites and, maybe, only second to Virginia Woolf among my literary icons. What got me hooked from the start was how she packed so much into a single page about human nature and character that rereading certain bits still leaves me breathless. I completely agree with Byatt that: “One of the reasons I loved her work when I met it was that she both showed people thinking intensely — as well as feeling — and knew and understood herself what they were thinking about. . . When I was younger it was fashionable to criticise Eliot for writing from a god’s eye view, as though she were omniscient. Her authorial commenting voice appeared old-fashioned. It was felt she should have chosen a limited viewpoint, or written from inside her characters only. I came to see that this is nonsense. If a novelist tells you something she knows or thinks, and you believe her, that is not because either of you think she is God, but because she is doing her work – as a novelist. We were taught to laugh at collections of “the wit and wisdom of Eliot”. But the truth is that she is wise – not only intelligent, but wise. Her voice deepens our response to her world.” Continue reading Marginalia: George Eliot

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for November 2017

For November and December, let’s revisit the best of the last ten months of short stories from this ongoing series. Why bother with this? For one, I find many short stories, when reread, give us new flavors, textures, nuances, etc., that we might have missed during the first read. For another, I do not want these amazing stories to simply get buried in the archives. So here are the five best-of-the-best from January-May 2017: stories by Karen Russell, Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Leila Aboulela, Robert Olen Butler, Helen Oyeyemi. These were very hard to pick, as you can imagine. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for November 2017

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for October 2017

Last October, I went the predictable route with a collection of horror stories for Halloween. This month, let’s turn to fairytale retellings, one of my favorite fiction sub-genres. As with many readers and writers, fairytales, with all their enchantment, magic, and fantasy aspects were my first thrilling introduction to storytelling. And these retellings for adults not only subvert the usual, tired tropes — the damsel in distress, the wicked witch, the handsome prince, the evil giant, etc. — but give us more complex and nuanced worlds and characters. Many famous writers have tried their hand, through novels and short stories, at both revisionist retellings of ancient fairytales and creating original ones of their own. We’ll get to the latter another month. For now, let’s take a look at the traditional, well-known ones that have been retold and made entirely new by these writers: Angela Carter, Susan Scarf Merrell, Robert Coover, Jennifer Wortman, and Michael Cunningham. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for October 2017

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads for September 2017

This month’s selection of stories is to do with the theme of getting older. The Oxford English Dictionary and the US Census define the midlife period as between the ages of 45 and 65 years and I am beginning this phase of my life this month. So I went looking for stories specifically about what I call “Middlescence.” Here are some of them by Yiyun Li, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Karen Shepard, Jon Hickey, Anushka Jasraj, and one of my flash stories from earlier this year. As usual, they are all free to read online by clicking on the titles below. Enjoy. [NOTE: For regular readers: You may have noticed that I tend to share stories by Alice Munro and Grace Paley quite frequently. Both of them have, of course, written many terrific works on this theme. I tried to mix it up a bit this time.] Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads for September 2017