One of my goals in 2017 was to read more short stories. I was indeed intentional in selecting short stories collection whenever possible, but I was also helped by the fantastic e-mail list “Season of Stories”, sponsored by Penguin Random House, which started mid-September, sent out stories in 4 daily installment every week and ran until yesterday! (Or so I believe, maybe they will go on sending out their good stuff forever and ever…).
It was very diverse and eye-opening for me. Even if I didn’t enjoy every story, I enjoyed discovering them all! So here is a little roundup from the latest to the first.
1 – “Crocodile Shoes” by Jojo Moyes from her collection, Paris for One and Other Stories: the only one I had previously read (and reviewed just recently). Such a heart-warming, glowy story.
2 – “Plague of the Firstborn”, by Etgar Keret from his collection, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God. I know Etgar Keret through This American Life, I own a collection of stories of his. This one was about the Bible plagues, but viewed from an interesting angle. Funny, but with an emotional twist.
3 – “Best of All Possible Homes” by Annabelle Gurwitch from her collection, Wherever You Go, There They Are. This one remains unread in my mail box. Perhaps discouraged by the story of the previous week, I had no time that week or since, sorry!
4 – “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” by Denis Johnson from his eponymous collection. This one I didn’t get. at. all. I tried, and tried, but I threw the towel on day 3. It’s a loose collection of memories, but I didn’t get into any of them.
5 – “What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky” by Lesley Nneka Arimah from his eponymous collection. Set in a dark futuristic Africa (somewhat post-apolyptical), it was a stunner. Totally heart-wrenching and full of images and sensations.
6 – “Babies in Limbo”, by Patricia Lockwood from her collection, Priestdaddy. I read it through but couldn’t relate to this weird, dysfunctional family
7 – “The Christmas Dance”, by James McBride from his collection of short stories, Five-Carat Soul. Loved it. Set in New York with a young PhD candidate trying to interview Black WW2 veterans, only to unearth a deeply moving old story that still reverberate to this day.
8 – “Reindeer Mountain” by Karin Tidbeck from her collection of short stories, Jagannath. Impressed and so wanting to know more about Tidbeck’s world, full of Swedish myths!
9 – “Yeoman” by Charles Yu from his book of short stories, Sorry Please Thank You. It was plain fun. I don’t normally do SF, but I didn’t exactly know comic SF was a subgenre.
10 – “Everyone talks”, by Lee Child from his collection, No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories. I know of Lee Child but have never read him. Crime and police procedurals are hardly ever short story material, so I was doubly impressed. Suspense and twists galore in such a short format.
11 – “But Also Bring Cheese” by Kate Tellers, from the collection The Moth Presents: All These Wonders. A daughter faces her mother’s death, but I didn’t quite relate to it.
12 – “The Plastic Surgeon” by Josh Barkan from his collection Mexico. The hero of the story is an ambitious American plastic surgeon in Mexico, who suddenly as a gangster in his surgery waiting room, requesting a total makeover, with difficult consequences.
13 – “Why Were They Throwing Bricks” by Jenny Zhang from his collection Sour Heart. Chinese American kids (the narrator hits puberty) confronted to their Chinese mainland grandmother with her intrusive and demanding love. I found it so, so true (I know some Chinese grandmas just like this character), and yet so disturbing.
14 – “Dreaming in Polish” by Aimee Bender from her collection of short stories, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. A confirmation that Aimee Bender’s stories are not my thing.
15 – “Prom” by Hasan Minhaj from the collection The Moth Presents: All These Wonders. An awkward coming-of-age story heavy with race prejudices but still so funny.
Happy holidays to you all and merry Christmas!