When I was younger, I hated short stories. I thought that any story should warrant its own long story. I hated leaving characters so soon. I still feel that way to some extent, but I’ve realized that some stories are really truly better as shorter novels and stories. Here are some of my favorite short stories and novellas:
I only read this story because it was in my Book Riot quarterly box, but I loved it. I didn’t expect to, but it was so cute and perfect! It is the story of a woman who gives up her life to help her brother live on a farm. At first, they are happy farming together, but then, her brother writes a book on the appeal of farm life, and gets suddenly famous. His sister is left running the farm while he goes off on famous author duties and writes new books. She is resentful, so when a traveling bookstore on wheels passes by and offers to sell the store to her brother, she buys it for herself and goes off on a book-selling adventure. It’s a surprisingly feminist book for something written in the early 1900s, and completely adorable.
Any long-term reader of Daily Mayo knows that Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite writers of all time. I love that he can present a story in few words and descriptions but still paint a complete picture of the events. Maps in a Mirror is a collection of his best short stories, and contains many of the stories that he later turned into books, like the Lost Boys story. These stories are all kind of creepy or disturbing, which it turns out, is one of my favorite formats for short stories. I don’t know why, but I really feel creepy stories are best as shorts.
Fragile Things is a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman and had sort of lackluster critical reviews. However, although I really wasn’t sure if I liked the book right after I read it, the stories and ideas have stuck with me through the years and sort of haunted me. I think any story that stays with you years later and colors your thoughts with images or lines from the story is something that is the mark of an amazing book. Therefore, I believe Fragile Things is a wonderful collection of creepy and mythical stories- a true modern collection of fairy tales.
This collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury all center on the tales of various adventures to Mars. The stories are all sort of connected, but feature different characters at different times in history. This book was written in the 1940s, well before anyone realized the full potential of space travel (not that we really have now either, but at least we have something). The book offers not only a glimpse at what a possible reality could look like in the future, but also serves as a sort of warning against human nature. The book is at once exciting and creepy, nostalgic and terrifying. Any one interested in classic science fiction will love this collection.
Isaac Asimov is the father (grandfather?) of all robot stories, and the master of robot fiction. I, Robot is written similarly to The Martian Chronicles in that it offers several glimpses into an entire history of robots from the same universe. Over the span of the book, robots change from simple machines to complex individuals indistinguishable from humans. The book carries that element of fright that is necessary for a successful piece of short fiction.
If you are not signed up for the Short Story Thursday e-mail list, do so as fast as possible. Jacob Tomsky who runs the show is hilarious and irreverent. He finds short stories from long ago and gives them new life by presenting them to thousands of new readers. More than the stories themselves, however, is the almost sacrilegious tone of the e-mails. Sometimes I pay more attention to his comments about the story than the story itself. After reading the weekly stories, there are also several discussion groups that you can join to talk about the stories.
Do you read short stories? What are your favorites?