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Short Stories

T.C. Boyle is a master of suspense who pushes his characters, scenarios and readers to their absolute limit without going over-the-top. Compiled here in Stories II, his short stories illustrate a fundamental human truth: that most of us are stumbling through life as best we can and only in hindsight do we recognize the benefits or the errors of our ways. In tales like "She Wasn't Soft," "The Love of My Life," "Chicxulub" Boyle brilliantly captures the inherent elasticity of how we perceive time. His characters are hopelessly fallible, but their recognition of it makes them interesting and at times loveable. Boyle is one of America's best writers and this volume confirms his mastery of the short story form.

Pat
$45.00
ISBN-13: 9780670026258
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Adult, 10/2013

...And the Short of It, Fiction

The four novellas of Andre Dubus III’s Dirty Love (W.W. Norton, $25.95) are emotionally resonant and searingly honest narratives of obsession, longing, and regret. Hailing from a small town north of Boston, the characters in these interconnected stories are distinctly human and sensitively rendered. We see ourselves in them, for better and for worse. Whether it’s the corporate manager investigating his wife’s adultery, or the bartender/would-be poet cheating on his pregnant wife, or the high school girl hiding from her shame after an unfortunate episode while waiting tables and studying for her GED, we recognize a distinct human grandeur in the characters’ weakness. Each piece in this volume is wonderfully entertaining, but at its core the collection shows an amazing understanding of the way people live, think, and feel.

Mark L.

Dirty Love (Hardcover)

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780393064650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 10/2013

...And the Short of It, 2013 Holiday Newsletter, Fiction
Every time I read a story by Aimee Bender, I feel changed, reworked, bent; as if Bender were akin to Miller, Smith, or Baker—wearing her trade in her very name. In her newest collection, The Color Master (Doubleday, $25.95), Bender’s fabulist skill is on full display. The fifteen short stories share different universes, different aches, and different arcs. In one, Bender focuses on a listless young woman, unsure of herself in any role beyond being a dutiful sister; in another, she re-imagines a world right out of Grimm, where a human becomes an ogre’s wife. Yet both tales focus on the desire for an identity beyond that of being someone else’s helpmate. That is the magic of this collection. Despite the divergent settings and deftly created characters, these stories hold one true power: Bender forces her characters to face their true colors and become the masters of their own fates.
Rachel
$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780385534895
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Doubleday, 8/2013

...And the Short of It, 2013 Holiday Newsletter, Fiction
With novels like Continental Drift and The Sweet Hereafter, Russell Banks has earned his place among the top ranks of contemporary novelists. His new collection of short stories, A Permanent Member of the Family (Ecco, $25.99), explores the lives of men and women confronting crisis and change. A former Marine facing poverty becomes a serial bank robber until his two sons, both in law enforcement, discover the truth. A woman loses her husband after the couple become “snowbirds,” buying a condo in Florida, only to be surprised and confused by the freedom and happiness that follow his death. An artist announces to his friends that he’s won a prestigious grant, but goes away angry and frustrated, questioning whether he merits what’s been cast upon him. All the stories collected here evoke the strangeness and complexity of emotion.
Mark L.
$25.99
ISBN-13: 9780061857652
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press, 11/2013

...And the Short of It, 2013 Holiday Newsletter, Fiction

Hannah, who died in 2010, was the long-time head of the Writing Department at Ole Miss, and his stories are unmistakably Southern—call it Southern Gothic with a twisted sense of honor and decorum that is entirely original. Some stories take place in the tumult of the Civil War and some in the quiet of suburbia, but a peculiar brand of hero is recognizable in all of them.  First published in 1978, Airships won the PEN/Malamud award and remains just as fresh and relevant today.

Mark L.

Airships (Paperback)

$14.00
ISBN-13: 9780802133885
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press, 3/1994

...And the Short of It, Fiction

A collection of short stories set in both Nigeria and the United States, the stories are simultaneously dark and funny. The tone is straightforward and matter of fact, but the subject matter can be intense and fantastical. There are no O. Henry twists in the tale here, but no maddening New Yorker vagueness, either. Here is the story; deal with that.

David
$12.99
ISBN-13: 9780061990878
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Harper Perennial, 10/2011

...And the Short of It, Fiction
Errantry is Elizabeth Hand’s first short story collection since 2006. If you like fiction that is dark and strange (the subtitle is indeed quite apt), you will love this collection. Hand’s tales are all about characters finding something otherworldly in everyday life. Some stories, like “Winter’s Wife,” possess a numinous quality of a myth retold. Others are unsettling or dream-like in their peculiarity but always beautiful and magical.
Anton
$16.00
ISBN-13: 9781618730305
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Small Beer Press, 11/2012

...And the Short of It, Fiction, Science Fiction
These are short-short tales, most only 3-to-4 pages, the right length to read between metro stops. Each is a bracingly original shot of absurdity, pathos, black humor, and soul. (Bonus: It's great on audio, too. The all-star narrators include Ira Glass, Dave Eggers, Nicole Krauss, George Saunders, Michael Chabon, Nathan Englander, and Gary Shteyngart.)
Liz S.
$14.00
ISBN-13: 9780374533335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: FSG Originals, 3/2012

...And the Short of It, Fiction
Egan has won the Pulitzer Prize for A Visit From The Goon Squad and is now considered a great modern American novelist. However, if you go back fifteen years or so you’ll find Emerald City, a collection of short stories that showcases her talent and foretells her success. The eleven stories involve themes of shifting identity, beauty, travel, family trauma, and emerging adulthood that occupy many of her novels. If you ever wanted to find out if you like one the best writers currently working, this is a great way to start.
Bill

Emerald City (Paperback)

$14.00
ISBN-13: 9780307387530
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor, 10/2007

...And the Short of It, Fiction
Trained as a psychotherapist, Bloom delves deep into the all of the complications and sorrows of daily life. But she also keenly observes the moments that are wondrous and joyful, making this debut collection a must-read for lovers of short form.
Sarah

Come to Me: Stories (Paperback)

$12.99
ISBN-13: 9780060995140
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial, 4/1994

...And the Short of It, Fiction
The eight stories in Russell’s second collection feature a series of metamorphoses. In completely realistic settings—the prairie during a blizzard, a sunny Italian tourist trap, a middle school rife with bullies—the stabilities of identity and everyday life suddenly shift, in startling but psychologically apt ways, revealing new facets about the characters and their worlds. The title story follows aging, but immortal, vampires as they disprove the myths of their kind and search, like any elderly couple of means, for the perfect place to retire. In another tale, girls forced into slave labor as silkworms go on strike—spinning cocoons that will free them into new lives. The powerful “The New Veterans” is the account of a returned Iraq-war soldier who’s made himself a living memorial by getting an elaborate tattoo of the site where his friend died in an explosion, a tattoo that tells different stories as the man works through his trauma. Throughout the book Russell’s prose sparkles with telling phrases and vivid descriptions.
Laurie
$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780307957238
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 2/2013

...And the Short of It, Fiction
These two novellas and five short stories prove that the brilliant Summer in Baden-Baden was no fluke: the posthumously discovered Russian writer Tsypkin wielded a graceful yet muscular and uncompromising prose, and deftly captured the realities of life for Russian Jews in the Soviet Union. Whether describing routine humiliations, violence, or parents watching a child emigrate, Tsypkin combines a Chekhovian ability to bring out the humor and pathos of ordinary situations with a level of detail worthy of Proust. The title novella recounts a family’s experiences of World War II and Soviet repression, but turns the stuff of epic into an intricate miniature. Told in both the first and third person as a man looks back at the boy he was, the narrative recreates courtships and squabbles, illness and train trips, along with bombings, beatings, and evacuations, all taken as equally normal by the young boy. Here and in the other pieces, especially the second novella, “Noratakir,” Tsypkin’s true subject is anti-Semitism and how its targets gradually absorb and internalize it as helplessness and guilt, even as they fight back in their own ways. In a terrifying vision interweaving Noah’s flood, Christ’s crucifixion, and the Nazi death camps, Tsypkin offers a profound meditation on violence, charting the chillingly seamless continuum from normality to nightmare.
Laurie
$16.95
ISBN-13: 9780811216616
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 3/2013

...And the Short of It, Fiction
Who are we without our memories? From South Africa to China, Wyoming to Lithuania, the disparate stories in Anthony Doerr’s Memory Wall are linked by their ability to capture the pathos of the human condition in stunning prose. In “Village 113,” a rural Chinese village is marked as one of hundreds to be destroyed in a man-made flood of the Yangtze River. The seed-keeper of the village must make the painful choice either to move to the city where her son, a government official instrumental in the village’s destruction, lives disconnected from his past, or stay in the only home she’s ever known and drown. The fifteen-year-old orphaned evangelical narrator of “The River Nemunas” is sent to live with her grandfather in Lithuania, where she struggles to hold onto memories of her mother by tracing the river paths her mother took as a young child. In the collection’s beautiful title story, the lives of three South Africans are irrevocably linked by the legacies of apartheid and the greater arc that draws us together: our humanity borne through our memories.
Lacey
$15.00
ISBN-13: 9781439182840
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner, 7/2011

...And the Short of It, Fiction
You may know of Lydia Davis as the acclaimed translator of Proust and other French writers, but she is also an amazing fiction writer. Collected Stories gathers Davis’ seven individual collections, and magnificently showcases her unique talent. While some of the pieces have the characters and plot development of a traditional story, others are samples of a mind meandering as they follow an idea through its logical or absurd implications, and still others are as brief as epigrams, with all the wit and startling aptness that implies. But anything Davis writes is smart and fresh; her work is absolutely compelling. Read one piece, and you have to read more.
Laurie
$20.00
ISBN-13: 9780312655396
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador, 10/2010

...And the Short of It, Fiction
Lives of Girls and Women is pure, vintage Alice Munro. This is one of her earliest books and the only one with the same narrator for every story (hence that tricky “novel” description), which—if you've never read Munro, or if you're wary of short stories—makes this an excellent introduction to one of the greatest living masters.
Liz S.
$15.95
ISBN-13: 9780375707490
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 2/2001

...And the Short of It, Fiction
The Saints And Sinners in Edna O'Brien's latest collection are mostly downtrodden Irish folk caught in an unforgiving world where grace is the exception, not the rule. The narrator in "Madame Cassandra" is desperate for information about what she already knows—that her husband is cheating on her with a girl young enough to be his granddaughter—and seeks out a fortuneteller to deliver the news. When, by chance, the narrator and her husband meet on the train as he returns from his illicit rendezvous, a kernel of hope is sewn into the final paragraphs. In "Inner Cowboy" a mentally disabled man runs up against a greedy real-estate developer, and the unexpected turns and quick pacing intensify the heartbreaking ending. In my favorite of the collection, "Green Georgette," an impoverished young girl and her mother unwillingly provide cover for a wealthy woman's affair with the local doctor, and the girl's mounting rage symbolically explodes into violence. O'Brien's spare yet lyric language hypnotizes.
Lacey
$13.99
ISBN-13: 9780316122726
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books, 5/2011

...And the Short of It, Fiction
Each of these ten stories is written with keen attention to the murky depths of interpersonal relationships, and each story dazzles. In "Fraternité," a social climber is reminded of the weight of his ancestry when he meets a poor immigrant and finds they have the same unusual last name. In "Le spectacteur," a man's fallacious belief that he can remain neutral and unaffected in a time of war is shattered when he comes up against the brutality of war itself. The individual ambitions of the mother and daughter in the title story, "Dimanche," become entangled when the pretentious young daughter unknowingly repeats the patterns of her mother's life. Némirovsky's talents as a writer and sharp observer of class and identity shine with each story.
Lacey
$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780307476364
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Vintage, 4/2010

...And the Short of It, Fiction
As long as people keep growing up, getting older, and falling into and out of love, Alice Munro will keep writing about it better than anybody else. Her latest story collection traverses familiar Munrovian terrain: rural and smalltown Canada, characters (mostly women) who are mild outsiders due to their higher education or “scandalous” choices relating to religion or sex. And yet everything feels clarion and fresh. Each story is built on Munro’s characteristic deep wells of feeling and truth. She’s a master at illuminating and challenging all of the relationships and fleeting moments that make up this Dear Life (Knopf, $26.95).
Liz S.

Dear Life: Stories (Hardcover)

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9780307596888
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 11/2012

...And the Short of It, 2012 Holiday Newsletter, Fiction
Nearly all the nine stories in Junot Díaz’s National Book Award-nominated collection center on Yunior, Díaz’s literary alter ego, a clumsy cheater and desperate-to-please lover who burns through girlfriends the way runners burn through oxygen. From Miss Lora—a teacher at his high school—to the overly romantic Magda to the artistic Alma, Yunior learns This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead, $26.95): by two-timing, by lying, by being too Dominican, by not being Dominican enough. Yunior picks up tips on relationships from his libertine older brother, Rafa, who adopted the values of the brothers’ duplicitous, controlling father. Alas, the women in Yunior’s world ultimately prove to need Yunior far less than he needs them. Díaz, a recently named MacArthur genius, deftly braids socio-economic and identity issues into each story’s tiny universe; his stories mirror our own jumbled, complex, and complicated world.
Lacey
$26.95
ISBN-13: 9781594487361
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 9/2012

...And the Short of It, 2012 Holiday Newsletter, Fiction
The poet, essayist, and novelist Charles Baxter started his career in 1984 with an award-winning collection of short fiction. Many accomplished books later, Baxter has chosen twenty-three outstanding stories for Gryphon (Vintage, $16). The typical Baxter character falls somewhat short of heroism; like many of the ordinary, complex figures in Chekhov’s work (which one of Baxter’s characters recommends), they’re diligent, middle-class people, the type who might get “carefully drunk” a little too early in the day, or who want to make a difference by, say, helping the homeless, but whose good intentions backfire. Earnest and compassionate in his depictions of an uncle adopting his dead brother’s son, or a young couple testing themselves by driving across a frozen lake, Baxter also has a delightfully whimsical side. In the title story, more reminiscent of Lewis Carroll than of Chekhov, a fourth-grade class goes slightly down the rabbit hole when a substitute teacher shows up with “substitute facts,” declaring that “sometimes” six-times-eleven could be sixty-eight.
Laurie
$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780307739520
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 1/2012

...And the Short of It, 2012 Summer Newsletter, Fiction
The impeccable craft of Julian Barnes’s richly textured collection of short fiction, Pulse (Vintage, $15), is evident in every detail, including the organization, of these fourteen pieces. The bulk of the first half explores various scenarios of connection and disconnection—a man rummaging around in the apartment of a woman he’s dating, a widower returning alone to the island he and his wife had visited together—interspersed with the lively dialogues of a dinner party; life has both its lighthearted and its grave moments. The book’s second section focuses on various sorts of loss, but Barnes shows how these deprivations can be opportunities for deeper understanding, as when a deaf-mute man develops a special talent for drawing people’s portraits, or a woman so traumatized by her abusive father that she loses all sense of smell becomes a talented musician. Barnes is always a keen and compassionate observer.
Laurie

Pulse: Stories (Paperback)

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780307742407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 5/2012

...And the Short of It, 2012 Summer Newsletter, Fiction