Since starting to read short stories regularly, I find myself doing something I never used to do--actively searching out interesting collections and anthologies. I used to avoid them like the plague, but now I often have one or two in my pile when I go to the bookstore or order books online. I thought it might be time to look through my shelves a little and find those collections I no doubt bought on a whim and then hid away. Here are a few that caught my eye:
- Interesting Women: Stories, Andrea Lee - "American brio confronts European sophistication in these critically acclaimed stories of seduction and self-discovery by New Yorker writer Andrea Lee. In vivid prose shot through with mordant irony, Lee offers the reader a rare combination: sensual evocation of the moment and profound insight into the underlying struggles of gender, race, and class that shape relationships worldwide."
- Ship Fever, Andrea Barrett - "1996 National Book Award Winner for Fiction. The elegant short fictions gathered hereabout the love of science and the science of love are often set against the backdrop of the nineteenth century. Interweaving historical and fictional characters, they encompass both past and present as they negotiate the complex territory of ambition, failure, achievement, and shattered dreams." (I've read some of her other fiction and ready enjoyed it).
- Runaway, Alice Munro - "Throughout this compelling collection, Alice Munro’s understanding of the people about whom she writes makes them as vivid as our own neighbors. Here are the infinite betrayals and surprises of love–between men and women, between friends, between parents and children–that are the stuff of all our lives." (I've actually got several Munro books, this is one of the more recent however).
- First Love and Other Stories, Ivan Turgenev - "Ivan Turgenev, perhaps best known for his novel Fathers and Sons, was a master at expanding the significance of a single episode into a story that illustrates a whole life, a whole relationship, even an entire age. These stories demonstrate the evolution of Turgenev's skills and preoccupations."
- Women and Ghosts, Alison Lurie - "In these nine utterly delightful tales, Alison Lurie, one of America's wittiest and most literate novelists, writes of women haunted by ghosts both literal and metaphorical. An irresistible blend of realism, satire, and fantasy, each story is amusing, lightly spooky, and entirely satisfying."
- Don't Look Now and Other Stories, Daphne du Maurier - "John and Laura have come to Venice to try and escape the pain of their young daughter's death. But when they encounter two old women who claim to have second sight, they find that, instead of laying their ghosts to rest, they become caught up in a train of increasingly strange and violent events. The four other haunting, evocative stories in this volume also explore deep fears and longings, secrets and desires: a lonely teacher who investigates a mysterious American couple; a young woman confronting her father's past; a party of pilgrims who meet disaster in Jerusalem; and a scientist who harnesses the power of the mind to chilling effect." (I loved the title story when I read it--I need to reread it and then the rest of the stories in this volume).
- The Rose Garden, Maeve Brennan - "At the heart of The Rose Garden is a series of linked stories with the cumulative power of a novel - a study of life in Herbert's Retreat, an enclave of rich, smug, vaguely artistic social-climbers situated some thirty miles above Manhattan. The self-satisfaction of these privileged suburbanites is matched only by their malice and their envy of one another's river view, kitchen fireplace, and live-in Irish help. Here Brennan is the master of a savage kind of farce, one part John Cheever, one part Moliere, one part Dublin music-hall hilarity." (I have a feeling I'm going to like her when I get around to reading her--I also have a biography of her).
- Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque, Joyce Carol Oates - "A collection of sixteen tales that range from classic ghost stories to portrayals of chilling psychological terror, raises the genre to the level of fine literature - complex, multi-layered, and gripping fiction that is very scary indeed."
- Absence Makes the Heart, Lynne Tillman - "Tillman ( Haunted Houses ) is an intelligent sister-in-fiction of Tama Janowitz, one not so stymied, perhaps less funny, probing matters of sexuality, sexual identity and the ongoing conflict between autonomy and the urge to merge."
- The Persimmon Tree and Other Stories, Marjorie Barnard - This is a Virago Modern Classic and the author is Australian. I've read the title story is much anthologized.
- The Marquise of O and Other Stories, Heinrich von Kleist - Several bloggers have recommended this collection.
- Matisse Stories, A.S. Byatt - "This elegant, beautifully illustrated edition contains three stories, each touched in a different way by the paintings of Henri Matisse. Their subjects' lives unravel from simple beginnings - a trip to the hairdresser, a cleaning woman's passion for knitting, lunch in a Chinese restaurant - but gradually the veneer of ordinariness is peeled back to expose pain, reveal desire, or express the intensity of joy in color and creation." (Any book mixing art and fiction always appeals to me).
- Name and Tears and Other Stories: Forty Years of Italian Fiction , Kathrine Jackson - (I think this sounds interesting--I've not read much Italian Literature).
You'll have to forgive me for my laziness. When I could I just snagged the synopsis of the book online, as I've not yet read any stories from any of these collections. Do you have any favorite short story writers or collections? I've been on the lookout for some contemporary short story collections.