In preparation for next Monday’s short story author panel at Magic City Books featuring Molly M. Backes, Claire Jiminez and Christa Romanosky, this week’s book column will feature exclusively collections of short stories.
If you’re feeling passionate: “Dear Life” by Alice Munro
Whether you’re feeling passionate for life, love, people or anything else, you are sure to find that passion kindled and cared for in the pages of “Dear Life.” Alice Munro is arguably the queen of the short story, and this collection is evidence. She has received the Nobel Prize in Literature, the International Booker Prize, the Giller prize and many other accolades. These stories discuss beginnings, endings, imagination, reality and numerous other aspects of everyday life. Munro does this, however, with an unparalleled unique flair that seeps from every word. “Dear Life” will have you crying, laughing and wanting to call everyone you love in your life just to say hello.
If you’re feeling conflicted: “Married Love and Other Stories” by Tessa Hadley
Much like Monro, Tessa Hadley has long been praised for her innate ability to discuss the human condition and shed light on interpersonal relationships, no matter how obscure. Though Hadley is perhaps more well-known for her novels, her short stories are consistently featured in The New Yorker and contain just as much nuance and commentary as her longer works. I am particularly impressed with Hadley’s ability to accurately portray so many facets of life. In the title story, “Married Love,” Hadley immediately intices authors with the blunt statement: “Lottie announced that she was getting married.” Hadley goes on to introduce us to Lottie and her family members as well as the formational house and environment in which she grew up. All this is done with intention and beautiful description that somehow doesn’t feel like overkill or too flowery. Even across stories, there is an authenticity with which her characters speak and operate that is really inviting and engaging. This collection is definitely one that stays with you long after you’ve finished it.
If you’re feeling inquisitive: “Nine Stories” by J.D. Salinger
I distinctly remember the first time I read “A Perfect Day For Bananafish,” one of the classic stories within J.D. Salinger’s, “Nine Stories.” Perhaps just as subtle, if not as infused with irony and teenage angst, Bananafish is a war commentary similar to that of “The Catcher in the Rye.” Though that is by far my favorite selection in this collection, the other stories are of just as high a caliber. Salinger uses his innate ability to weave the unbelievable into the everyday within each and every story. I think what I’m always so drawn to in Salinger’s work is the way he flips normalcy on its head. There is always a sense of conventional human reality, and yet everything feels new, fresh and previously unexperienced.