Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Summer is short- read a story." -Ann Patchett

Harper Perennial is putting out some "public service announcements" to advocate for reading short stories. You may have seen this around already, but here is short-story writer Simon Van Booy's take on why you should choose this form for your summer reading:

But what's out there? I hear you ask. Here are some of my favorite short story picks, with links to reviews where applicable.

Magic for Beginners, by Kelly Link. Like Neil Gaiman? You will love Kelly Link.

The Djinn in the Nig
htingale's Eye, by A.S. Byatt. Literary fantasy your thing? Look no further.

New Stories from the South 2009, edited by Madison Smartt Bell. Out in August. Great collection of recent fiction from top writers.

The Last Chicken in America: A Novel in Stories, by Ellen Litman. My personal favorite book of short stories from last year, about the Russian-Jewish immigrant experience.

The Idol Lover and Other Short Stories of Pakistan, by pal and fellow librarian Moazzam Sheikh. Literary armchair travel, sexually and politically charged and skillfully crafted.

Jesus' Son, by Denis Johnson. Read it in college; loved it. Rough-around-the-edges fiction from the celebrated author.

The New York Stories of Edith Wharton, by Edith Wharton. By the author of classics like Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence.

The Best American Non-Required Reading, any year, various editors. A series of anthologies of off-the-beaten-path fiction, journalism, comics and more.

This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers, edited by Elizabeth Merrick. Curtis Sittenfeld and Judy Budnitz are among the many talented writers featured.

And of course, Love Begins in Winter, by Simon Van Booy. Literary, beautifully written stories. The title story made one librarian tear up and call his husband to say "I love you" in the middle of the day. What better endorsement is there than that?

I keep a stack of short story anthologies on my nightstand and sometimes it's just the thing. Anthologies are also a great way to sample lots of new-to-you writers and collections allow you to get to know a writer's style in depth. Lots of writers use short stories as a run-up to writing a novel, but for some, it's an art form in and of itself. I hope you find something great this summer- and I hope you'll come back and tell me!