5 Short Stories
A "brief" list of some great works
I love short works: You pick them up and you put them down, usually in a single sitting. Everyone has their faves, from Carver to Cheever et al. But how nice, and how well-suited to our lives, when we’re so time-crunched that we never can truly commit to a long book to have these lifelines! Short stories provide big blasts of fine prose without being huge time-thieves.
Stephen King has authored a few short story collections, but this one is particularly rich. More than a dozen diverse, meaty tales make for chills, as well as some ick-factor fun. Of course, this is Stephen King we’re talking about, so…there’s a lot more.
These are nonfiction travel stories…and they’re absolutely hilarious. Bill Bryson describes his first trip to Europe, his travails with his buddy, Katz, and lampoons the continent with staggering stabs of wit. Very funny, this is an excellent gateway to Bryson’s later works.
Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize last year, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her here. The quintessential author of the “New Yorker story,” this collection is fairly representative of her multitudinous talents and immaculate prose.
When I read David Means’s collection of stories, more than a decade ago, I was blown away by the style and gritty content (I think maybe only Kevin Canty or Ron Rash spring to mind, in terms of immediate impact). These stories really are gut-punches, in the best ways.
Not for the unibrow set, Rebecca Lee’s collection is a pretty deft slew of varietals that, blended, form a rich bouquet with subtle links here and there, beyond her authorial voice and style. Pick these up, and you won’t be able to put them down.