In search of intertwined short stories
August 30, 2010 7:19 PM   Subscribe

ISO collections of intertwined short stories.

I like collections of short stories that are intertwined -- where different stories focus on different characters, looking at the same events or situation from different perspectives. One example is Amy Bloom.

I also like the technique in novels, such as Gilead and Home by Marilynne Robinson.

What are some other examples, particularly of short story collections? And what is the genre called, if anything, if I wanted to do a search? I tend to like the writing of female authors, but am open to anything.
posted by ClaudiaCenter to Writing & Language (27 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I like Winesburg, Ohio a lot.
posted by box at 7:24 PM on August 30, 2010

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:25 PM on August 30, 2010

Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk
posted by knowles at 7:27 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine (1984) is a really terrific example, following multiple generations of an Ojibwe family on the northern high plains. A compassionate and beautifully woven narrative.
posted by cirripede at 7:43 PM on August 30, 2010

Ellen Gilchrist. Almost all her books are intertwined short stories. Also, Charles de Lint, whose characters move from book to book and story to story.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:43 PM on August 30, 2010

The Orphan's Tale by Catherynne M. Valente is a lot of nested short stories inside a frame story. (It's also excellent.)
posted by bewilderbeast at 8:05 PM on August 30, 2010

The technique is sometimes called novel-in-stories. You might like The Ms Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.
posted by judith at 8:25 PM on August 30, 2010

George Perec's Life: A User's Manual. It's billed as a novel, but it really isn't.
posted by : ) at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2010

Michael Ende's Mirror in the Mirror is tied together thematically rather than by characters. It's not so easy to find outside libraries these days.

Seconding Life: A User's Manual - brilliant.
posted by Paragon at 8:35 PM on August 30, 2010

Cosmicomics- Calvino. Sort of like what you said. I guess.
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 8:40 PM on August 30, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone. And, please, please -- keep them coming!

After starting to search around on some of your suggestions, I found that many of the collections are called "linked stories" or "linked short stories" or "story cycle." A discussion of this genre here ... Also, I found the book review that I meant to keep but didn't, here. Love y'all, MeFi & internet.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:41 PM on August 30, 2010

If you like Jim Harrison (present-day romantic US Western), check out Dalva and The Road Home. Each novel contains three sections with a different narrator, and one or two people appear twice. Together, they contain the perspective of a grandfather, father, daughter, daughter's temporary neurotic professor date, and ... I may be forgetting someone.
posted by salvia at 9:02 PM on August 30, 2010

In Runaway Alice Munrow has a series of three stories that intertwine about a mother and her daughter. As per with most of her work it's pretty amazing - the whole collection is, as a matter of fact.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:09 PM on August 30, 2010

If On a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. You have to read all the way to the end to see the thread.
The Periodic Table by Primo Levi. Each chapter centres around a different chemical element. Some chapters are (heartbreakingly) autobiographical, some are completely fictitious.
You might also try Larry's Party by Carol Shields. Shields unfolds Larry's unremarkable life in a series of short chapters, some looping back on earlier events.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:26 PM on August 30, 2010

Faulkner's Go Down, Moses sort of does this.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:39 PM on August 30, 2010

Tim O'Brien- The Things They Carried
Pam Houston- Cowboys Are My Weakness, Waltzing the Cat
Melissa Banks- The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing
Margaret Atwood- Moral Disorder
posted by charmedimsure at 10:03 PM on August 30, 2010

I'll second Winesburg, Ohio. It's an odd collections of stories, and the way they are conncted together is original and clever.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 10:33 PM on August 30, 2010

If you like Wineburg, Ohio, you might also like Old Home Town by Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder). It's set in roughly the same time period as Winesburg and also focuses on the inhabitants of a rural community, only with a greater focus on women and how they navigated the suffocating moral expectations of society. Lane's narrative voice feels surprisingly modern, too.
posted by brookedel at 1:51 AM on August 31, 2010

Olive Kitteridge is the primary character in the Elizabeth Strout novel by the same name, but the book is a collection of stories from the points of view of various characters in a small town, and in some of them, she is only incidental. I thought it was a lovely book.
posted by kimdog at 6:22 AM on August 31, 2010

Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler is one of my favorite books. It's stories about the residents of a fictional apartment building called the Preemption, not unlike the Dakota.
posted by Fuego at 7:16 AM on August 31, 2010

I am seconding Ghostwritten and The Orphan's Tales, which are both fantastic.
posted by dfan at 7:22 AM on August 31, 2010

Several of Rebecca Brown's books fit your criteria, especially The Terrible Girls.
posted by dizziest at 8:06 AM on August 31, 2010

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin.
Natasha by David Bezmogzis.
posted by matildaben at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks again, everyone. I read Winesburg, Ohio @20 years ago, maybe I'll pick it up again. I loved loved loved Olive Kittridge and the other Elizabeth Strout books, just read those this year. I read Louise Erdrich's books way back, forgot about those.

This is a great list, I'll print it out an hop over to the bookstore. Thanks, everyone!
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:56 AM on August 31, 2010

Swimming Lessons: and Other Stories from Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry.
posted by amf at 10:39 AM on August 31, 2010

Response by poster: I brought the list to my bookstore and bought two, the Alice Munro and the Jennifer Egan. Lots were not in stock but I will order. Thanks!
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:27 AM on September 4, 2010

A few more:

For novels, try Maile Meloy's Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter. Both visit the same family, but from different perspectives.

For short stories, try:

Nami Mun's Miles From Nowhere
Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad
posted by Ms. Informed at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2010

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