Monday, September 29, 2008

Sometimes you need something short

A really great short story can be so satisfying. I, like many, thought that I really didn't like short stories for a very long time. I blame the stories I had to read in school for this. I was never very impressed with them, and if I did like one I felt like I was being cheated with such a short installment rather than a whole book. I didn't really begin to appreciate them until college. 

My first thought is that there is an appropriate time to read everything. School-age is not the right time for most of the things that students are forced to read. As an adult I can much better understand and appreciate the things that were force fed to me as a kid. And I'm a reader. If I was miserable imagine how non-readers felt!

Anyway, King was of course the man who got me started enjoying short stories. His collect Night Shift is still one of my favorites. I do read King's intros, too, and was very taken in by his own thoughts on short stories. It's become a sort of dying art. Truth be told, I think short stories may be harder for some authors to write than books. Think about it, you have to develop your character and your story in just a matter of pages whereas with a novel you have the whole book to accomplish that task.

Ah well, I think I've written about this before, so I will just go ahead and share with you some of the fantastic collections I've read. 

Today I finished up Laura Lippman's new collection (due out Oct 7) Hardly Knew Her. It's full of twisted tales about manipulative women, strong women, and just plain bad women. It's really fun. I think "Pony Girl" is my absolute favorite! There are three stories featuring PI Tess Monaghan and a novella as well. 

I also really enjoyed these titles:
Jigs & Reels by Joanne Harris - her stories range from sweet and thought-provoking to the strange and supernatural. Highly recommended. She also includes a very insightful intro to each story explaining her inspirations for each tale. Super fun.

Twentieth Century Ghosts by Joe Hill is another fabulous collection. Most of the stories are horror, and they're all wonderful. 

Night Shift by Stephen King, as mentioned above. Many of the old movies based on King's work come from this collection, the title tale and Children of the Corn, just to name a couple.

And of course, the one I keep talking about, Like a Charm ed Karin Slaughter.

I have many more on my shelves to read now that I have learned to love these short tales and even more on my "to buy" lists. And of course, King has a new one due out in November!


Cheryl said...

I have yet to read a Laura Lippman book but I want too

Anna said...

I think I might check out Lippman's stories. I'm always looking for a good short story collection. Thanks for the recommendations.