We’re currently at my inlaws, comfortably snuggled and watching the snow. Merry Christmas to you all!
This year I’m offering less books than usual, with a major exception: my younger brother recently took an interest in short stories and specifically asked for some collections, a wish than I am very happy to oblige! (Whenever he reads, he’s normally into Proust or highbrow experimental French lit, just to give you an idea – and he doesn’t read English, so I can safely blog about it here!). Because I was short of time, I found myself in one of these mega-bookshops that I enjoy so little, looking for a book… no, a full bookstack, inspired by Bloglily’s generous gift idea.
My challenge was to find something that he wouldn’t choose by himself, but that he would eventually enjoy… I had a hard time coming up with actual books, because all those I’d thought before entering are either untranslated into French or plain unavailable on short notice in such a bookstore. My first idea was James Salter and Ethan Canin, both authors being very strong on subtle male psychology. But both were missing from the shelves. What a shame! If a French publisher reads this blog (just by chance), I’d recommend to translate them both right away.
I’d given up on Proulx and Alice Munro, because I wasn’t sure the American West would appeal to my very French brother, and I found Munro a bit too.. feminine perhaps? Then I thought of Somerset Maugham (I loved his Far-Eastern tales), but only his novels were in French. Connecting Maugham to Proust for a special turn-of-the century feeling, I arrived to… Edith Wharton. I grant you this, hers is also a very feminine perspective, but I thought that my brother would enjoy a glimpse on Old New York.
Then I moved on to the opposite and looked for something contemporary, dark and strong. I remember my brother’s taste for Humphrey Bogart 1950s mysteries. I wanted noirs and thrillers, but just a few pages long. Did it exist (and in French?) A nice saleswoman in the mystery corner introduced me to the translated Best American Mystery Stories. I chose the collection edited by James Ellroy. I have no idea if he will like it, but I’m sure he’ll get to know a few new writers on the way.
I couldn’t resist and added a few others mysteries to the stack, a Belgian one and an Israeli one by Batya Gur, but these are novels and not short stories, so I won’t go into them here. Do you have suggestions? I recently read that short stories were a female forte, and while I don’t really believe in such a statement, I indeed see that female writers jump to my mind more easily than male ones — What short stories would you recommend for a young man?