The sun has finally risen on the shortest day of the year. A really bad metaphor has just popped into my head, along the lines of short stories being like short glimpses of light… anyway… It is also National Short Story Day. So to celebrate this here are some of the best short stories I have read or re-read this year.
– ‘How to talk to your mother (notes)’ Lyrical and haunting depiction of a mother and daughter. I am a big fan of Lorrie Moore and re-read this after recommending it to a student.
– ‘Up the mountain coming down slowly’ Dave Eggers’ excellent contribution to McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales. Tourists going up Mount Kilimanjaro – how much will they sacrifice to get to the top?
-‘Everything is Moving, Everything is Joined’ and ‘Morphogenesis’ in Litmus. It’s a brilliant anthology and hard to choose which stories in it I like the best. I could list them all.
‘The House of Usher’ by Edgar Allen Poe. I looked at some classic short stories with my MA group at Uni of Bolton. I love this story. The sumptuous language and how Poe cranks up the horror notch by notch. We also discussed the classics ‘The Dead’ so I took time to re-read Dubliners as a whole. I know it’s a predictable classic, but its also unsurpassable. We compared this to Carver’s ‘Cathedral’. One of his more optimistic stories. Years ago it inspired me to write my Ellipsis 2 story, ‘The Stop’ (though the eventual story has very little in common).
-I recently went to a reading of Comma’s Lemistry, an anthology celebrating the work of Stanislav Lem. I found out the Philip K Dick suspected Lem wasn’t a person at all, but a committee dishing out Soviet propaganda. Loved Annie Clarkson’s ‘Toby’, a futuristic story of adoption.
-When I’m not at Bolton, I’m dashing to Edge Hill University. My third year seminar and I all loved John Burnside’s ‘Slut’s Hair’ in The Best of British Short Stories. Another favourite was Claire Massey’s ‘Feather Girls’. I feel if I describe these stories I’ll ruin them. So I won’t.
-I have just read Tom Vowler’s The Method and Other Stories. Loved the whole collection. Really liked his dark and disturbing stories about children’s propensity for violence: ‘Homecoming and ‘The Little Man’, as well as his satires of writers, ‘The Method’ and ‘One Story’.