Category Archives: Short Stories/Essays


I find it difficult to describe the experience of reading the short fiction of Alice Munro. Usually, I like my short stories to be a little bit weird and experimental — to play with form, the way George Saunders does, … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 8 Comments

An Elegy for Easterly

Petina Gappah grew up in Zimbabwe — it was Rhodesia until she was about ten — and today she lives in Geneva as an international lawyer. Her debut collection of stories, An Elegy for Easterly, is odd to read. Zimbabwe … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 6 Comments

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

When it comes to essays, Joan Didion is among the greats, at least she is by reputation. Before reading this collection, I’d not read many of her essays, “Goodbye to All That” and maybe a few others. I’d also read The Year … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 8 Comments

We Live in Water

In 2013, I read Jess Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets, a novel about a middle-class man in free-fall. That novel was satirical and insightful and interesting, it made me laugh and it made me think, but somehow I … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 12 Comments

Difficult Loves

Difficult Loves is a collection of short stories by Italo Calvino, published quite late in his life (1984, only a year or so before his death) but written quite early indeed, most of them in the 1940s and ’50s. This … Continue reading

Posted in Short Stories/Essays | 6 Comments

All That Man Is

The stories in this collection by David Szalay trace the life history of man by looking at nine men at different stages of life. There’s a university student named Simon, traveling through Europe with a friend. There’s Bérnard, who has … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 5 Comments

The Givenness of Things

If you’re a regular or long-time reader of this blog, you’re probably aware that I’m a tremendous fan of the work of Marilynne Robinson. I’ve read and loved all her novels, and I marveled at her 2012 essay collection, When I Was … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Religion, Short Stories/Essays | 3 Comments

What Makes This Book So Great

So, what makes What Makes This Book So Great so great? (Ask me if I’ve been waiting to write that line.) Well, first, let’s get clear exactly what it is: it’s a collection of blog posts that Jo Walton wrote … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 18 Comments

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

Last year at about this time, I read Consider the Lobster. It was my first encounter with David Foster Wallace’s writing, and I discovered with surprise and pleasure that he writes absolutely incredible, delightful, kick-ass essays. Why surprise? Well, I … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 7 Comments

Interior Darkness

I haven’t read any Peter Straub for a long time. His Magic Terror left me cold, and when I followed that too closely by Houses Without Doors, I gave up on him altogether (but not without a loud complaint.) Still, … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays, Speculative Fiction | 4 Comments