May is Short Story Month!
It wasn’t until I landed in grad school that I embraced short stories. Now, I find it hard to read anything else (ok, that’s an exagerration, but only slightly.) Short story month is every month in my house, and I’m so excited to have an excuse to celebrate the form!
In honor of Short Story Month, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite stories, collections, and lit mags, along with some notes about why I love them, with links galore.
Of course, there are lots and lots more amazing stories out there, and this list is by no means exhaustive. But if you’re tempted by, but haven’t explored, the form; or if you know you love short stories and want to add to your TBR list, these are good places to start!
“Zamboni” by Rebecca Makkai
“Fakers” by Carrie Cook
“L. DeBard and Aliette” by Lauren Groff
“Tender” by Sofia Samatar
“Sea Creatures of Indiana” by Kathy Fish
“Stone Animals” by Kelly Link
“Today I’m Yours” by Mary Gaitskill
“Quiet, Please” by Aimee Bender
“Dragon Rodeo Queen” by Kate Sheeran Swed
“Mail from the Person You Ate” by Jennifer Fliss
The Beautiful Indifference by Sarah Hall | Atmospheric and brutal, these six stories never fail to move me.
Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods | Edgy, smart, and laugh-out-loud funny, Woods has a knack for cunning plots and flawed-yet-sympathetic characters.
The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr | Long one of my favorites for how Doerr writes about the natural world, and also the depth of empathy he has for his characters.
Stay Awake by Dan Chaon | Creepy in the best possible way.
Servants of the Map by Andrea Barrett | Brilliant. There’s just no other word for it. It doesn’t seem fair that Barrett could be so smart, and such an incredible writer, but she is, and she is.
Ghosts of Chicago by John McNally | A collection that doesn’t feel like a collection, but rather some larger question being posed, and answered again and again.
Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry by Christine Sneed | The narrators in this collection are so relatable, and the prose is so smooth.
Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith | Sweet and subversive, and full of flawed characters whom you can’t help but love.
American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell | One of my first introductions to short stories, these are brutal and rangy, ready to wallop.
Night Swimming by Pete Fromm | Pete taught me a lot of what I know about writing, and his lean, emotional stories always have a place in my heart.
Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor | I often teach stories from this collection, because Minor experiments with form so well, without ever compromising on narrative.
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link | Wild and weird and unforgettable.
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Adichie’s controlled voice and smart, honest portraits of women make this a quick read.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter | Retellings of fairy tales, in a most fabulist, creepy, seductive way.
Almost anything by Alice Munro, Amy Bloom, Flannery O’Connor, Deborah Eisenberg, and Rick Bass.
One Story (one story per issue; always a pleasure)
Split Lip (one of my favorite online venues for new voices)
Cheap Pop (not always fiction, but beautiful small bites of prose)
Smokelong Quarterly (best place for flash fiction, and how I discovered LCS!)
Hobart (long a staple for nonfiction, their edgy, smart fiction is also a joy)
What are some of your short story favorites?? Let me know in the comments.
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