Short fiction is better than long right now...
April 26, 2020 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Reading is my escape, but I'm too scattered right now for long-form fiction (god i wonder why). Rec me your favorite short story collections please? I'm open to any author or genre, as long as the writing is good - thanks!
posted by ersatzkat to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

Any collection by Shirley Jackson.
posted by bookmammal at 3:26 PM on April 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

19 short stories by Alice Munro -- free online!
posted by nantucket at 3:44 PM on April 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

Lorrie Moore is the greatest living short story writer and that is all I have to say about it! Birds of America is the masterwork.
posted by less of course at 3:47 PM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
posted by dianeF at 3:48 PM on April 26, 2020

Some that have stuck with me:

Sherman Alexie is pretty reliable, and Toni Cade Bambara.
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love
Slapboxing with Jesus
Junglee Girl
City of Boys

I'm listening to a collection from Kevin Wilson on audiobook right now and he's a very good writer.
posted by latkes at 3:53 PM on April 26, 2020

Alice Munro!

Mavis Gallant is one of my favorites as well.

In a more modern vein, Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado, is one of the best short story collections I've read in recent years. The stories are thematically linked, but the form and style of each story is so different from the rest, you finish the collection in awe.
posted by basalganglia at 3:54 PM on April 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

A People's Future of the United States of America

I also like the Best American short stories anthologies. Anthologies are the best for me when I can't focus on longer fiction.

Oh, but also, Flannery O'Connor, the complete stories.
posted by the primroses were over at 3:57 PM on April 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

Michael Chabon's short stories are reliably good too
posted by latkes at 3:57 PM on April 26, 2020

IMO, you can't do better than Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son. The Audiobook is excellent and includes a novella, both read by the amazingly talented Will Patton. Backlisted episode on it.
posted by dobbs at 4:00 PM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I didn’t love How Long 'til Black Future Month as much as I do NK Jemisin’s long fiction, but I did enjoy it.
posted by obfuscation at 4:10 PM on April 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

William Maxwell - All the Days and Nights
posted by dobbs at 4:10 PM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Literary Short Fiction
All the Names They Used for G-d, Anjali Sachdeva
The Wilds, Julia Elliott
And I'm seconding Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado it's so good!

How Long Til Black Future Month?, N.K. Jemisin
Octavia's Brood, eds. Imarisha Walida and adrienne maree brown

Modern Retellings of Ancient Stories
One Thousand and One Nights, Hanan al-Shaykh

I'm also kinda into the Decameron right now, which is a collection of short stories from 14th Century author Giovanni Boccaccio. But fair warning, the stories are all "told" by a group of teens and twenty somethings who are hiding out in the Italian countryside to escape the Black Death. The stories themselves don't deal with illness -- they're all meant to be escapist diversions -- but you might prefer to skip if you're looking for a real escape.
posted by juliaem at 4:13 PM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I just finished and really liked Friday Black, by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Kinda dystopian, but kinda not, and a lot of the stories have a thread running through them. They're not all related, and sometimes the "thread" is just a reference (so you don't need an encyclopedic knowledge of all the stories to enjoy any particular one), but it's a well done collection of stories by a really good writer.
posted by pdb at 4:16 PM on April 26, 2020


Thomas King, One Good Story, That One

Maile Meloy, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It

Curtis Sittenfeld, You Think It, I’ll Say It
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:18 PM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Jorge Luis Borges’ works are all very short and fulfilling. Each one contains a whole world.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 4:28 PM on April 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem (in English)

There’s no excuse for a translation to capture so much clever literary wording and play, but it does. Sort of nerdy intellectual philosophical sci-fi from the eastern bloc in the 60s, ultimately optimistic.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

The Collected Dorothy Parker
posted by runincircles at 4:56 PM on April 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

How Long Til Black Future Month?, N.K. Jemisin

Just came in to recommend this, so instead I'll second it.
posted by solotoro at 5:16 PM on April 26, 2020

God Sees the Truth but Waits by Tolstoy.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:11 PM on April 26, 2020

Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories by Naomi Kritzer. (Contains metafilter favorite "So Much Cooking".)
posted by gudrun at 6:46 PM on April 26, 2020

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
posted by Kimothy at 7:07 PM on April 26, 2020

You might enjoy the surreal fantasy-sci-fi of R.A. Lafferty, one of Neil Gaiman's influences. Seconding Gaiman's Fragile Things, and the stories of Jorge Luis Borges and Ted Chiang are also great. Somerset Maugham's short stories are entertaining, and they are in the public domain in Australia and Canada.
posted by Agave at 7:24 PM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm a huge short story fan, and I've found that if you're looking for quality writing, the best go-to is the curated anthology. For instance:

THe Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories.

The World of the Short Story.

The latter is older.

I second the Best American Short Story series, but also the O.Henry Prize series, and the Pushcart Prize series.

For science fiction, you can't beat the Year's Best Science Fiction, edited by Dozois.
posted by storybored at 9:12 PM on April 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Last Defender of Camelot by Roger Zelazny
posted by fings at 8:12 AM on April 27, 2020

2nd'ing the Dozois collections of science fiction. I've been reading them for years; they are my go-to source for short science fiction (which these days is all I want to read for pleasure anymore).

(Note #1: there's a similarly-titled "Years's Best SF" series, but IMHO the Dozois series is better. Note #2: I'm not sure what you like in terms of topics or societal elements mixed into the stories, but it may be worth noting that over the decades there have been some slight shifts in the story themes. That's to be expected from a genre that often holds a mirror up to society. Some things may resonate with you more than others, so pershaps a good approach would be to sample from the earlier years and the later years, to get a sense for what you may like better.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:15 AM on April 27, 2020

I love short fiction, with a particular bent toward fantasy and science fiction. I also love me some pause-to-savor-it prose and strong characters, so I hope any of the following titles I really dug speaks to you.

Before and Afterlives by Christopher Barzak
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me by Kate Bernheimer, ed.
The October Country by Ray Bradbury
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney
Salon Fantastique by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds.
The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar
The Drowned Life by Jeffrey Ford
Stories by Neil Gaiman, ed.
In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss
Saffron and Brimstone by Elizabeth Hand
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan
anything by Ursula Le Guin
Trampoline by Kelly Link, ed.
After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson
posted by xenization at 12:07 PM on April 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

Can also recommend Angela Carter, Ray Bradbury, Ursula Le Guin, NK Jemesin.

Suggestion from left of field: I’m currently reading through each tale from The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer as though they’re short stories. Gives me a chance to do some background reading (and picking up other books) between each one. The recommendation for the Decameron (which influenced CT?) reminded me.
posted by chronic sublime at 5:20 AM on April 28, 2020

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