Young Adult Linked Short Story Collections
March 23, 2012 2:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for linked short story collections.

For an assignment, I have to read and present on a linked short story collection. By linked short stories, I mean short stories written by one author and which feature recurring settings and/or characters.

We were given a list of potential books we could use, but they are all "grown up" books. I don't want to read about people in their late 20s, 30s or 40s and their relationships or falling apart marriages or about moving to the countryside or getting lost in city or moms/dads getting in touch with their distant adult children. :(

I much, much, much prefer reading Young Adult. I like beautiful stories full of magic and/or adventure and/or mystery.

I'll take grown up books if they have those characteristics.

Examples of some books I enjoyed: Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, The Night Circus, Brian Jacques' Redwall series, The Mysterious Benedict Society series.

Please share any suggestions on linked short story collections that you think I'd like.

Thank you kindly in advance!
posted by joyeuxamelie to Education (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Mad Scientist Club
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:38 PM on March 23, 2012

Lives of Girls and Women
posted by KokuRyu at 2:44 PM on March 23, 2012

Roald Dahl's book Someone Like You includes four or five linked short stories that are referred to (together) as "Claud's Dog." I would highly recommend them. This is a "grown up" book but it is pretty much the farthest thing imaginable from the literary "adult fiction" stereotypes that you're wary of.

...and his children's story "Danny the Champion of the World" is also connected to this cycle.
posted by pete_22 at 2:50 PM on March 23, 2012

It's on the young side, but: Louis Sachar's Wayside School series.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:50 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah I was about to come back and say Wayside too. I just re-read those books for the first time in 15 years and they still crack me up.
posted by pete_22 at 2:52 PM on March 23, 2012

Lives of Girls and Women is an incredibly powerful and beautifully written set of interconnected short stories by Alice Munro, but while the chief protagonist is the age of a typical YA heroine, it's really not YA fiction at all--not in the sense of the examples you gave.
posted by yoink at 2:55 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are adult fantasy series that will occasionally do books of short stories, some of which feature their regular characters in more than one story. You may miss details that a regular novel reader would know, but they're still pretty interesting. Most of the stories were published elsewhere here and there, so I'm guessing people followed them without the entire backstory.

There's Side Jobs by Jim Butcher, Men of the Underworld by Kelley Armstrong, and Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn. Kage Baker has also written several short story books taking place in her Company world, such as Black Projects, White Knights, Gods and Pawns, and Mother Aegypt.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:58 PM on March 23, 2012

Asimov's Tales from the White Hart was a favorite of mine growing up - not exactly kid's lit, but not all that serious.
posted by pupdog at 2:59 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to recommend you an adult book about relationships and moving to new cities and junk. Namely, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose by Alice Munro.

The stories follow Rose from her childhood on. Munro is one of the best living writers of short fiction, and she captures real life in a way that is more real than reality, if that makes sense.

The book is totally about moving to new cities, starting and ending relationships, growing older if not wiser over the years, and the relationship between child and parent over time. Fortunately, those experiences are absolutely full of magic, adventure, and mystery, so I think you'll be okay.

One review on the Amazon page:
Yes, this may not mean much coming from a twelve year old, but Ms Munro, I thought your book was absolutely brilliant. The only thing that worried me was that air of sour mystery, the anticipation of disappointed expectations, a slight shivering of dread as if no matter how well we obey our parents, listen to our teachers, toe whatever invisible line has been drawn for us in the sand, we will in all likelihood end up alone, eating chili out of cans and opening up some tuna for the cats. But if we can have all that, our health, and a light to read your stories by, I guess it won't be all that bad.:)
That's one precocious kid, but I have to agree with the sentiment.

Lives of Girls and Women is by the same author, but it's actually a novel rather than a collection of stories.

I really encourage you to take this opportunity to experience quality, enjoyable, approachable literary fiction outside of the world of YA. Munro is never tedious or boring, and the world she writes about will be immediately familiar and relevant to you.

Especially in an educational setting, it's sometimes important and valuable to stretch yourself, to use the opportunity to gain experiences you wouldn't otherwise have. You don't need a class to push you to read Lemony Snicket because you already view that kind of book as fun. I would encourage you to use this opportunity to see if maybe there are other kinds of fiction that you can enjoy.
posted by jsturgill at 3:08 PM on March 23, 2012

You may also enjoy Adverbs by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snickett). Not YA, but has several teen characters.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:16 PM on March 23, 2012

How about Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger?
posted by Miss T.Horn at 3:26 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ursula LeGuin has various connected short story collections -- The Orsinian Tales is one; Four Ways to Forgiveness is another (Sci-Fi); The Birthday of the World (sci-fi), though I don't think that all of them are connected, just most.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:13 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tove Jansson (more famous for the Moomins) also wrote a book of simple, beautiful stories about a young girl and her grandmother spending summers together on an island off the coast of Finland: The Summer Book. It's not technically magic or adventure, but I think it aims for that feeling as it manifests in more or less ordinary childhood experiences. If by chance your instructor has some personal bias against fantasy fiction, this might make you both happy.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to veer away from the YA here, but I also read a ton of YA stuff so I get how most non-genre fiction is just so bloody annoying.

Lythande by Marion Zimmer Bradley (non-YA fantasy)

A whole lot of Larry Niven...
Crashlander (science fiction, with adventure!)
Flatlander (mystery-science fiction)
The Draco Tavern (science fiction... also, these are really short--he fits twenty-seven of them into a normal novel length)

Or, you could go with straight mysteries. Sherlock Holmes, obviously. Miss Marple has The Thirteen Problems. Asimov wrote sixty-six (I'm not making this up) short mysteries with the same group of characters, collected in the various Black Widower books.
posted by anaelith at 5:05 PM on March 23, 2012

Larry's Party by Carol Shields is wonderful.
posted by caoimhe at 5:16 PM on March 23, 2012

Seconding Orsinian Tales. They're somewhat past YA but not at all "difficult", just gorgeous. Ursula LeGuin, I just like saying her name.
posted by jfuller at 5:17 PM on March 23, 2012

Dandelion Wine works like this. It is sometimes characterized as a novel, but is actually linked stories.

Also, this is written for "adults", but is a group of linked coming of age stories I would highly recommend: Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies.
posted by gudrun at 6:34 PM on March 23, 2012

Le Guin has already been mentioned, but I'll just add that her collection Changing Planes might also fit the bill. I believe the only recurring character is the narrator, though.

Here's a sample: "The Seasons of the Ansarac".
posted by teraflop at 7:23 PM on March 23, 2012

You may not like this for it surely does include stuff about adults in failing relationships and lots of familial negotiating but:

The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich

I would say Ms. Erdrich falls in the realm of magical realism and her stories are full of fantasy, magic and beautiful prose. The "fantasy" she writes is firmly rooted on earth and in specific historic times and places, including modern times. A lot of what she writes delves into mythical happenings in Native American communities and the way events and actions echo through families and communities throughout time.

(Also, that said, the collection I mention above spans her career and not all of the stories are linked or were written to act as various parts of one whole story, but a large chunk of them deal with different members and branches of the same families. May not satisfy your teacher's requirements.)
posted by dahliachewswell at 11:36 AM on March 24, 2012

Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:08 PM on March 24, 2012

Oops, I missed the Young Adult part of the question.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:09 PM on March 24, 2012

I remember Bradbury having a whole slew of short stories set on Mars. There is surely at least one volume that collects some or all of them.
posted by attercoppe at 12:08 AM on March 25, 2012

@jsturgill -- I'm in an MFA program and have read quite a lot of literary fiction and classics. In fact, it's because of this that I'm especially adamant about presenting a YA book. (Well, aside from the fact that I enjoy them a lot more.) There are only a few others in my program who are interested in writing YA, as I am, and we try to incorporate YA whenever we can into assignments like this. We're just trying to give the genre a voice in an environment where most of the discussion revolves around literary writing/writing for an older audience.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions! I appreciate it.
posted by joyeuxamelie at 12:19 AM on April 9, 2012

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