Another day at Armchair BEA! Today we talk about short stories and novellas. For the longest time, short stories were just that random section of required reading in high school, but recently I came to love short stories. A well-compiled anthology can be so refreshing. I especially like reading short story collections during busy rotations or exams, because I can read a story in between study sessions without feeling like I’m losing track of the story line.
Three of my favourite single short stories:
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – if you’ve read this horrifying tale, you probably think I’m a psychopath for having this on my list. Truth: this was the first short story that ever gripped me. It showed me the power of a short. If you’ve never read a short story that made you gasp for air, this is a good one to try.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka – I read this because Christine had a post about artworks her kids did for class. It’s the only Kafka I’ve read so far, but I’ll be reading more. If you like analysing a story for underlying meanings, and a little bit of twistedness, try this one.
Barcarole for Paper and Bones by M.T. Anderson – this was in a collection of short stories to benefit ProLiteracy, Shelf Life. I’m seeing a trend here in terms of favourite shorts: they’re really disturbing! This one is pretty morbid and weird – as stories about old ships and sailors are wont to be. I loved it though.
Some Favourite Anthologies
Some of these are not really meant to be short stories, but they read like short stories. Vignettes, or sketches, or whatever: they’re short.
It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet by James Herriot – some of the funniest stories I’ve read. Real proper British humour, and animals of course.
Maverick: Extraordinary Women from South Africa’s Past by Lauren Beukes – shorts about some fantastic (and often controversial) South African women. These are so colourfully told that you would probably love it even if you knew nothing of South Africa.
A History of the Present Illness by Louise Aronson – great shorts from a young family physician
The Radiation Sonnets by Jane Yolen – not short stories, but sonnets. Uniquely heart-wrenching. Pass the tissues.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – I absolutely devoured these vignettes of the lives of modern Indian life, be it in India or expats. Well-deserving of the Pulitzer Prize.
Touch: Stories of Contact by Karina Szczurek – short stories around the topic of “touch” by South African authors. Royalties from this anthology are in aid of AIDS, so there’s that too.
The Backwash of War by Ellen N. La Motte – click for my recent review.
And then, some anthologies I am currently reading:
I take my time and leisurely go from one collection to another.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros – given to me by a Latin-American friend who was adopted as a baby and is seeking her birth parents.
The Penguin Book of International Women’s Stories by Kate Figes- because women’s stories matter
Fish Eats Lion by Jason Eric Lundberg- short stories from Singapore
Selected Myanmar Short Stories by Ma Thanegi – short stories from Burma/Myanmar, with full colour illustrations