Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reading Everything

by Susan

It's no secret that I love to read. I've noticed over the past few years that friends and family members often ask me for recommendations so I try to have a rolling list at the ready. I happily give books that I've loved to people without expecting them back. I'll even drop much-loved books in the mail to friends far away, just to insure they have no excuse not to read something fabulous. I go to book signings and hoard my signed copies.

This summer, I returned from my MFA residency with six or eight new books by our visiting writers and faculty. A month later, I went to Sewanee, and came back with at least twenty signed books by people I'm now happy to call friends. In addition, my required reading for my MFA has been an absolute joy, and I'm reading and annotating at least twenty new books per year to complete my degree requirements.

Today, I thought I'd pass on some short story collections, and for my next post I'll share my latest novel finds. Here are the short stories I've been reading, folks. Enjoy!

The Heaven of Animals, by David James Poissant. Each story is gripping. Jamie is not only a great writer, but he's a terrific guy. 

Stories, Volume I, Anton Chekhov. You can't get through life claiming to be a reader without diving in to Chekhov. Start with The Kiss.

The Boy With Fire in his Mouth, by William Kelley Woolfitt. Will is someone to watch. This short story collection won the Epiphany Editions Chapbook Contest and his award-winning poetry collection, Beauty Strip, is forthcoming this year from Texas Review Press.

Tenth Of December, by George Saunders. I can't say it enough: I flipping love George Saunders. This collection won the Folio Prize, and has been called his "Victory Lap." It is a masterpiece of a collection. 

Dear Life, by Alice Munro. What to say about Munro? She's a titan, and just won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. My favorite in this collection is Corrie.

A Haunted House and Other Short Stories, by Virginia Woolf.  The classic master of the novel also wrote some compelling short stories. This collection was published posthumously-- some completely edited by her and some in a rougher form. Fascinating. 

Reasons to Live, by Amy Hempel. The contemporary master of the short story-- and you can't get through a workshop, conference or MFA program without studying her work. Start with In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried, her first, and perhaps most well-known piece. 

My Escapee, by Corinna Vallianatos. My friend and mentor, and the winner of the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction.

Starting Over, by Elizabeth Spencer. Written and published this year, when she was 92 years old. Read it for that reason, alone.

Going Away Shoes, by Jill McCorkle. Another friend and mentor. I adore this collection, and I adore Jill.

When You Find Us We Will Be Gone, by Christopher Linforth. Christopher and I workshopped together at Sewanee, and he's definitely a rising talent besides being an overall great guy. This collection was just released August 30 (last week!) so pick it up today! 

If you don't want to dive into short story collections or purchase a stack this tall, always know you can find some great short stories online, in literary journals, and in anthologies. And as a tiny shameless plug, you can find one of mine, right here: The Shasta, published in August, 2014, by Drafthorse Literary Journal. Enjoy. 

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