Category Archives: Short Stories/Essays

The Unspeakable

In the introduction to this essay collection, Meghan Daum writes that our societal discourse is “largely rooted in platitudes” and that her goal in the book was to get beyond the platitudes to discuss “the unspeakable thought many of us … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 11 Comments

Get in Trouble

I think it’s pretty well established that I like my short stories weird. But these stories by Kelly Link pushed the weird envelope for me. They’re not necessarily bad stories, but I felt like I wasn’t getting some of them. … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays, Speculative Fiction | 10 Comments

In Persuasion Nation

I wrote about George Saunders’s stories in Tenth of December about a year and a half ago. It surprises me to find that it was so long ago, because those stories have remained vivid in my mind as some of … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays, Speculative Fiction | 2 Comments

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories

It annoys me when I don’t like something but don’t know why. In the case of this short story collection by Hillary Mantel, I can’t come up with much of anything to complain about, but I also don’t have much … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 11 Comments

Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

Mollie Panter-Downes is probably best known for her long-running “Letter from London” column in The New Yorker. But her writing also included novels, poetry, and short stories, with most of her short works also being published in The New Yorker. … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 5 Comments

Tenth of December

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about short stories is the way they give authors room to play with an idea without having to fully flesh it out or offer a full-fledged plot. Sometimes just a glimpse of … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays, Speculative Fiction | 8 Comments

January Essays: The Deal Me in Challenge

As I mentioned earlier this month, I decided to make my way through The Art of the Personal Essay, edited by Phillip Lopate, by participating in the Deal Me in Challenge. I’ve assigned each essayist in the book a playing … Continue reading

Posted in Nonfiction, Short Stories/Essays | 3 Comments

Man v Nature

The characters in these stories by Diane Cook are placed in situations where they have to consider the essentials of life and death and what lengths they’ll go to to survive—or just to obtain the thing they consider essential. For … Continue reading

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 2 Comments

Deal Me In Essayist Challenge

Almost a year ago, I posted about my troubles reading the excellent essay collection The Art of the Personal Essay edited by Philip Lopate. Many of the essays were enjoyable, but I was having trouble fitting them into my reading … Continue reading

Posted in Short Stories/Essays | 11 Comments

How To Breathe Underwater

This collection of stories by Julie Orringer sounds as if it’s going to be miserable. Here we have girls — mostly teenage girls, some younger — going through a familiar collection of life’s cruelties, fears, and humiliations: displacement, addiction, illness, … Continue reading

Posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Short Stories/Essays | 1 Comment