Category Archives: Short Stories

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue

Title: The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits

Author: Emma Donoghue                        

Call #: DON

This is a completely different side of Emma Donoghue than you might have experienced if you read Room. These are 17 stories, all based on reality, set in Great Britain or Ireland over a 700 year period. Donoghue weaves snippets of the lives of real people into beautifully written fiction. She captures the sights and sounds and smells of each era perfectly. If you like historical fiction but don’t want to take on a whole book, these stories are for you.

Recommended by: Betty

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Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman

Title: Binocular vision: New and Selected Stories

Author: Edith Pearlman                         

Call #:  PEA

I had never heard of Edith Pearlman, and read this collection based on its introduction by Ann Patchett, herself a writer of beautiful and lyrical prose, and I agree with her – Edith Pearlman is a gift: treat yourself.           

Recommended by: Bobbie

Favorites of 2012 – Kathy

Today’s post features Kathy’s favorite books read in 2012.

The Family Fang by Kevin WilsonTitle:  The Family Fang

Author:  Kevin Wilson

Call #:  WIL

Kevin Wilson has created a fabulously dysfunctional family in this novel from 2011.  Parents Camille and Caleb Fang are artists whose art involves creating chaos in public spaces and then filming it.  When their two children are born, they include them in their schemes and vie for the title of “Worst Parents”.  The book opens in the present day; children Buster and Annie are grown and dealing with their unhappy, stagnant lives which forces them both to move back home. The book alternates chapters between the present and the past where one of the family’s art installations is detailed.  I loved this coming-of-age tale full of dark humor.  For months after I read it I continued to speak of the characters as if they were real.

Eat the Document by Dana SpiottaTitle:  Eat the Document

Author:  Dana Spiotta

Call #:  SPI

This is my type of book but might not be everybody’s type of book.  It does not have a straightforward plot – it jumps in time, place, and perspective – and there isn’t a lot of forward momentum.  Simply put, it’s just a story but a story that is compellingly told.  It is about a woman in the 1970s that as part of the anti-war movement, participated in a violent act forcing her to go underground.  Both her past and present, where she has changed her identity, are detailed.  A third storyline revolves around a man who may or may not have been the main character’s lover in the 70s and now owns a counter-culture book store.  Questions of identity, how you can create a new one or unravel an existing one, and lives led on the outskirts of society lend the novel a philosophical tone.  If you like Jennifer Egan, Dana Spiotta might be a good choice.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot DiazTitle:  This Is How You Lose Her

Author:  Junot Diaz

Call #:  DIAZ

Generally short stories are not my favorite but two things helped with this collection – the stories are interconnected and the writing is fantastic.  They are connected by theme (love, lust, sex, cheating and more cheating) and by character.  Most of the stories feature brothers Yunior and Rafa – from Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  I really love Diaz’s writing style because it is unlike anything else I read. One reviewer summed it up perfectly – “GRE-prep words with literary allusions, pop-culture references, Dominican slang, and American profanity”.

Recommended by:  Kathy

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

This is How You Lose Her by Junot DiazTitle:  This is How You Lose Her

Author:  Junot Diaz

Call #:  DIAZ

Generally short stories are not my favorite but two things helped with this collection – the stories are interconnected and the writing is fantastic.  They are connected by theme (love, lust, sex, cheating and more cheating) and by character.  Most of the stories feature brothers Yunior and Rafa – from Diaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  I really love Diaz’s writing style because it is unlike anything else I read. One reviewer summed it up perfectly – “GRE-prep words with literary allusions, pop-culture references, Dominican slang, and American profanity”.

Recommended by:  Kathy

Stay Awake by Dan Chaon

Stay Awake by Dan ChaonTitle:  Stay Awake

Author:  Dan Chaon

Call #:  CHA

Dan Chaon is one of my favorite authors. He is just a great writer and although his style is always a bit dark and disturbing, these stories are especially so. Death, dying, dark secrets and desperation loom large. But I reiterate – WOW, what a writer.  It seems obvious that the death of his wife in 2008 from cancer has had a profound effect on his writing.

Recommended by:  Kathy

Sisters on the Case ed. by Sara Paretsky

Sisters on the Case ed. by Sara ParetskyTitle:  Sisters on the Case

Editor:  Sara Paretsky

Call #:  M SIS

In 1986, a group of women met to discuss the unique challenges they faced as women crime writers, and subsequently founded Sisters in Crime, an organization that has grown to nearly 4,000 members. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Sara Paretsky assembled this collection of 20 short stories written by the founding members. Look for Paretsky’s own story featuring 11-year-old Victoria Warshawsky.

Recommended by:  Bobbie

Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser

Dangerous Laughter by Steven MillhauserTitle:  Dangerous Laughter

Author:  Steven Millhauser

Call #:  MIL

Millhauser is a master of the macabre short story and this collection is a great introduction to his work. One story tells of a miniaturist, working for an ancient king, who recreates replicas of the castle and its furniture so small that he ends up in madness working in the realm of the invisible. Another imagines a community who worked for generations to build a tower that could reach heaven. Millhauser loves writing short stories, and his adoration for the form shines through in this collection. It is simply fun to read.

Recommended by:  Becky