Sunday, March 13, 2011

5 Short Story Collections That Amy Recommends

5 Short Story
Collections That Amy Recommends

Short stories are just right up my alley right now, primarily because I can fit one in while nursing my baby or while my toddler is preoccupied. They are low commitment, high interest, and a good one can be as powerful as any novel. Here are a few collections that I've really enjoyed, (or am still in the midst of enjoying!):

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower (Picador, $14.00)

Reading this debut collection by Tower is an experience. I found myself having a visceral reaction to each story, and it was a relief when each one was finished, only to throw myself back in again to the next one. Of the five books reviewed here, this one is at the top of my list.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Random House, $15.00)

The narratives and subjects travel from Nigeria to the United States and paint a sharp picture of what it must feel like to be connected to those two places, but yet not quite fully visible in either. Adichie is very good at adding layers and dimensions to her characters that, in my opinion, are what make these stories stand out among other stories of the Immigrant Experience.

The Empty Family by Colm Toibin (Scribner, $24.00)
The latest work by Toibin, and the first I have read. Beautiful narratives, many of which share similar themes of loss and estrangement from one’s loved ones. The last story, The Street, is probably the finest and most heart wrenching of them all, and ends the book on a redemptive note.

Runaway by Alice Munro (Vintage, $15.95)
Munro is a master of this format, particularly with developing a depth to her characters and a finding a secret portal into their private lives. This collection is considered one of her best.

War Dances by Sherman Alexie (Grove Press, $14.00)
The 2011 One Book One Philadelphia selection. These stories and poems, while fleeting and sparse at times, take the reader on a journey; a brief and often brutally funny look inside Alexie's head.

March 2011, Amy Vaccarella

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