Short stories like this are the only stories here.
June 23, 2009 9:42 AM   Subscribe

I demand to know your favorite short story anthologies.

I recently realized that my brain isn't cut out to read novels on the subway, so I've made a left turn to short stories. Single author collections of short stories are great, but I'm looking for anthologies that include various authors to keep things lively. I love the Best American Non-Required Reading series, as well as My Mistress' Sparrow Is Dead. I've also got Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules on my list.

My favorite short story authors are Lorrie Moore, Amy Bloom, Chekov and Flannery O'Connor, but I'm looking to expand.

What else should I pick up?
posted by zoomorphic to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The various O. Henry Awards collections are usually fantastic; I have one from 1987 that I reread frequently.

I found this massive book at an antique store in Vermont once, and very much recommend it. Full of Cheeveresque stories about WASPs and very '60s pieces about bohemian Jews in New York. Great mix of authors, too.
posted by nasreddin at 9:49 AM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Night Country by Loren Eiseley is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The world is a far more beautiful place because of it.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:49 AM on June 23, 2009

It's old now, but I still love Sudden Fiction International (amazon link) -- short-short stories (less than 5 pages) from around the world, by authors like Jamaica Kincaid, Jorge Luis Borges, Doris Lessing, Jeanette Winterson, etc. It's also the first place I read Donald Barthelme's The School, which may be my all-time favorite.
posted by janet lynn at 9:51 AM on June 23, 2009

Get your Philip K. Dick on: The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford
posted by teabag at 9:55 AM on June 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so far everyone! Just a reminder, I'm not asking for single-author short story collections, but anthologies where stories by different authors are compiled. I also just stumbled across Zadie Smith's The Book of Other People.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:57 AM on June 23, 2009

The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction is pretty hard to beat, depth- or breadth-wise.
posted by gyusan at 10:04 AM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fantasia Mathematica is a collection of stories and poems about mathematical subjects compiled by Clifton Fadiman in 1958. Its authors include Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler, Plato, and H.G. Wells. I'm very fond of it.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:08 AM on June 23, 2009

Seconding Sudden Fiction International and also recommending Sudden Fiction: American Writers and Sudden Fiction Continued.
posted by Pineapplicious at 10:08 AM on June 23, 2009

Best answer: First, yay Zadie Smith!

Second, it's older, but I've been dipping back into The Art of the Tale recently, and loving the variety of international perspectives.
posted by hellogoodbye at 10:09 AM on June 23, 2009

My favorite collection is Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural, edited by Marvin Kaye. It contains a truly diverse spectrum of authors from Tennessee Williams and Guy de Maupassant to Orson Scott Card.

Also, a good HP Lovecraft anthology will never steer you wrong. Ever.
posted by hermitosis at 10:26 AM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you want to try some horror, I highly recommend Dark Forces (original stories done for that anthology) and The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Super-Natural (the classics: Hawthorne, Poe, etc. up to Stephen King).
posted by marxchivist at 10:40 AM on June 23, 2009

Best answer: The Norton Anthologies are classics, but you might've read many of the short stories in other places. Nick Hornby edited Speaking with the Angel. It has a number of cool authors. Any individual issue of McSweeneys (or one of its best-of collections) would do, as well. They can be found if you look.
posted by aswego at 10:47 AM on June 23, 2009

If you like science fiction, may I suggest The John Varley Reader?
posted by Hanuman1960 at 10:56 AM on June 23, 2009

Best answer: I really like God Stories, an anthology of storiest that each grapple somehow with the idea of faith. It was put together by Michael Curtis, an editor at Atlantic Monthly, and includes a lot of familiar names (including O'Connor), but I think it's an excellent assemblage, and a worthy idea.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:58 AM on June 23, 2009

Haruki Murakami's The Elephant Vanishes is pretty amazing.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:07 AM on June 23, 2009

More sci fi (scyfy?): Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions
posted by Think_Long at 11:37 AM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

My favorite anthology is another horror one, again edited by Marvin Kaye, called Devils and Demons.
posted by Caduceus at 12:10 PM on June 23, 2009

Thoughtcrime Experiments is pretty great. And free online! I also really enjoyed The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.

You can also subscribe to Zoetrope All-Story and One Story to receive short stories by different authors on a regular basis in your mailbox.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:12 PM on June 23, 2009

Best answer: I also recommend Haruki Murakami's short stories (and Raymond Carver's, one of Murakami's favorites), but for an anthology you might choose Birthday Stories, which he edited and to which he contributed one story, "Birthday Girl".
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:35 PM on June 23, 2009

If you love Flannery O'Connor, you might also love The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake.
posted by saladin at 12:51 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you read Randall Jarrell's Book of Stories? Jarrell selected, and he knew what he was doing. You've probably read some of them in other collections, but I think the choice of stories as a whole here is extremely interesting, as well as the stories themselves. And I don't know where else you are going to find Ludwig Tieck's "Fair Eckbert." It's a kind of unfairy tale.

Katherine Mansfield's In a German Pensione is a collection of stories related by place and is very, very good.

For something different from both of the foregoing, Karel Capek's Tales from Two Pockets is one of my favorite books. It is a series of sort of detective stories, but really it's much more interesting than that. A little bit like Simenon crossed with Maupassant, if that means anything to you.

Maupassant himself is hard to beat.

posted by Wittamer at 12:56 PM on June 23, 2009

If you've any interest in hardboiled crime fiction, may I (self-servingly) suggest you check out the ThugLit anthologies?
posted by Bookhouse at 12:58 PM on June 23, 2009

Best answer: Lorrie Moore is my absolute favorite short-story author - so it's in keeping with this that I adore the anthology I Know Some Things, edited by Lorrie Moore. It's a beautiful collection of short stories that are poignant in unexpected ways. If you haven't already read this, I would highly recommend that you do so.
posted by numinous at 2:09 PM on June 23, 2009

After coming home and browsing my shelves, I have and recommend The Art of the Story, edited by the same guy who did The Art of the Tale, but including authors born after 1937.

Also, a little more subway portable, The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. Oosh, "Cathedral" gives me the chills.
posted by hellogoodbye at 2:49 PM on June 23, 2009

Not exactly anthologies, but physician Ethan Canin's collections Emperor of the the Air and The Palace Thief contain stories of different enough viewpoint and character voicings to almost qualify as such. Canin's collections won notable prizes, and beyond his medical career, he has also served on the faculty of the Iowa Writer's Workshop.

In a similar "quasi-anthology" vein, Edgar Lee Masters Spoon River Anthology may deserve your attention, or a revisit, if you read it in high school; although in poetry form, the "stories" of the Spoon River Anthology are short, interlaced biographies in the form of epitaphs of former residents of a small town, which you, as a reader, tie together to form the greater whole of understanding the town's life and history, as you go. At the previous URL, you can even "re-arrange" the Anthology in ways other than Masters originally grouped it, thus changing the way you discover the town, underneath the interlaced relationships; print out some different collections of epitaphs for daily reading, until you get a bit of a flavor for this.

If you want further suggestions for short form readings, let me encourage you to explore the realm of essayists, which are a class of authors always in need of attention from new readers, too. Particularly, several of the collections of Lewis Thomas, such as The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher or The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher are good reads in short form. In a similar vein, Lauren Slater's Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century, a "description of psychology experiments "narrated as stories," has drawn both praise and criticism." (to quote Wikipedia). Although she writes it as fact, it has been deeply criticized as having been substantially invented by Slater, to suit her needs - you, as the reader are left to decide which truths, if any, are large enough to be worth taking away from your reading of it.
posted by paulsc at 2:51 PM on June 23, 2009

Going pretty far back, there's the Borderlands/Bordertown series of anthologies (brought to us in part by Metafilter's own Will Shetterly) that were classified as young adult, but that I came upon as an adult, and quite liked. Might be out of print, but worth a look if you're interested in Scifi/fantasy.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:29 PM on June 23, 2009

Best answer: My favorite is the Scribner Anthology:

Sherman Alexie ("This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona": You'll like this.)
Margaret Atwood
Russell Banks
Donald Barthelme
Rick Bass
Charles Baxter
Kate Braverman
Robert Olen Butler
Ethan Canin
Raymond Carver
Michael Cunningham
Junot Diaz
Richard Ford
Amy Hempel ("In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried," one of the best stories ever.)
Denis Johnson
Jamaica Kincaid
David Leavitt
Lorrie Moore (I love her)
Alice Munro
Joyce Carol Oates
Tim O'Brien
Cynthia Ozick
Annie Proulx ("Brokeback Mountain")
Susan Sontag
Amy Tan
Alice Walker
...and others.
posted by booth at 8:19 PM on June 23, 2009

If you like the sci-fi - my all-time fave is still Roger Zelazny's The Last Defender of Camelot .

I think there's 11 stories in there.
posted by bitterkitten at 11:47 AM on June 24, 2009

The Vintage Anthology of Amnesia is just great. Lethem's introduction is just a few pages long, but it might be the best thing he's written. It's passionate and made me want to tear into the stories to see the various ways that amnesia can be represented. Read the introduction at a bookstore and see if it similarly whets your appetite. (There's also a wonderful annotated bibliography in the back that introduced me to Dhalgren and The Unconsoled, both of which are excellent.)
posted by painquale at 1:01 PM on June 24, 2009

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