Can Someone Recommend Some Good New Short Fiction for Me, Please?

See above.

I just finished my friend Carolyn Black’s book The Odious Child and before that I read Stuart Ross’s Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew and before that I read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Devon Code’s In A Mist. I liked all four very much. I’m thinking short fiction could be the next thing I get into, reading-wise. Can someone suggest me some more? As an aide, here are some things I’ve noticed I like.

1. Stories that serve in some part as excuses for fucking around with the material of stories.

2. Stories that do not hold “the story” up as the default sense-making paradigm for the activity contained in a human life.

3. Stories that have jokes about sex.

4. Stories in which the main characters, such as they are, do not act like the main characters in a novel. I say this because I don’t want to move in with them, I just want to be entertained by them for five to thirty minutes.

5. Stories in which the main characters, such as they are, do not act like the main character in my life, or in “real life”. This has always bothered me about stories, in part because I don’t *believe* in them in the way I believe in the lyric or the novel or the play. I don’t believe that their propensity to accurately reflect the true nature of human life is reflected by the faith we put in their ability to do that. I like my stories shifty and unhuman. I want to make use of the fact that short fiction is, at present, the scariest kind of reading I can imagine.

6. Stories that tell larger stories, with a general but not oppressive thrust towards a shared narrative arc. The Ross and Egan books did this especially well, methinks.

7. Stories in which none of the characters have names. Or in which all of the names are adjectives. Or in which all of the characters are adjectives.

8. Stories by authors who give off the sense that they could have been poets if they wanted to.

9. Stories that are not stories but actually glossaries, or inventories, indexes, lists.

10. Any story set within a fifteen block radius of my apartment.

Your help here would be muchly appreciated, internet. It’s been so long since we talked.

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7 Comments on “Can Someone Recommend Some Good New Short Fiction for Me, Please?”

  1. Angela Says:

    have you read Maille Melloy’s Both Ways is the Only way I want it? or Like Life by Lorrie Moore? 2 of my favourites. The latter does #6 well I think.

  2. voxpopulism Says:

    I have read neither. I am writing them down. You’re not the first to say love for Moore, though. So I’m writing that one down in ink.

  3. chadpelley Says:

    Collections I’ve enjoyed, off the top of my head, that might meet some of the above criteria:

    Jessica Grant’s “Making Light of Tragedy.” (There’s no one else like her. offkilter and unpredictable, and wonderfully fresh language)

    Amy Jones “What Boys Like” (The stories in this colelction experiment with POV and narrative structure in an exciting way. Loved it, except the opener didn’t fit with the others)

    Joey Comeau “Overqualified” (It’s basically a novel in shorts, but those shorts are cover letetrs to jobs … that get off track about his personal life.)

    Love the langauge and style in Michael Winter’s ‘One Last Good Look,” and Lisa Moore’s “Open,” and Russell Wangersky’s the Hour of Bad Decisions.”

    The vivacity in Lynn Coady’s “Play the Monster Blind.”

    Do read Pasha Malla’s “Teh Withdrawal Method” and Lee henderson’s “The Broken Record technique”

    Kathleen Winter’s “boYs” was a very fun, very well-written collection, that was nothing at all like Annabel.

    Look into some of these 2011 collection I am excited about:

    Jessica Westhead – And Also Sharks
    Matthew J. Trafford – The Divinity Gene
    Zsuzi Gartner – Better Living Throguh Plastic Explosives
    Michael Christie – The Beggar’s Garden

    … should I have said just one? Bored and waiting on a phone call.

  4. voxpopulism Says:

    Yikes. I’m going to need excel for this, aren’t I?


  5. John Sayles, The Anarchists’ Convention


  6. I hadn’t heard of Maile Melloy until Mark Jarman mentioned her last night. From what he said I feel confident recommending it. I also recommend Mark Jarman…

  7. John Stintzi Says:

    It is cliche at this point to recommend Raymond Carver, but “what we talk about when we talk about love” is a great collection of stories. They are apparently his more abstract or surreal ones. They are good stuff.

    Not to mention I am about 6 months late. Writing stories with no names is interesting. I have been writing all my short stories nameless. It just feels right.


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