Chris Power made his literary bones as a critic, writing the long-running series "A Brief Survey of the Short Story" for the Guardian. It's no surprise, then, that the stories in his debut collection are marked by a quiet mastery of the form, as assured as it is unassuming. They tend to center on characters who could be described as searchers: travelers and tourists driven by mysterious motives, looking to cure some elusive lack in their lives. All this enigma rewards careful reading; the more you strain to understand these variously broken people, the more apparent the quality of the prose becomes. And as if all that wasn't enough, the book gets extra credit for having one of my favorite dust jacket designs in recent memory.
Tales From the Inner City is short story collection by the beloved artist Shaun Tan, where crocodiles live on the 87th floor, men turn into frogs, and snails fall in love. His world is our world slightly altered by small detail. Through Tan's unique imagination and breathtaking art, he investigates our deeply relational coexistence with animals. They occupy our imagination in fantastic and ordinary ways (just like his stories). I haven't been able to shake the otherworldly fugue I encountered in Tales from the Inner City and I think everyone will enjoy dipping their toes in Tan's stories.
The stories in Friday Black are volatile, unpredictable concoctions. While reading them, I imagined author Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah as a mad scientist, mixing beakers with wild abandon: some societal critique here, a little gallows humor there, a dose of dystopian sci-fi just for kicks. The resulting stories feel just as likely to combust as they do to end. Adjei-Brenyah is among the most exciting new voices in fiction I've encountered all year, the heir apparent to Vonnegut and Saunders's tradition of dark, socially incisive postmodernism.
This book is a twisted bramble, ripe with grimy tales that really satisfy. Enriquez's voice entertains, educates, and terrifies. "I like dark themes,' she says, "...I would say it's my way of looking at things." amen, sister.
If you enjoy the fiction of Ursula Le Guin, and seek something new, read Karin Tidbeck. Her novel Amatka is powerful but Tidbeck's short stories are nigh perfect, perfectly weird.
I'm not sure whether this is a book of short stories or long jokes. Then again, maybe it's an art book with very extensive captions. Whatever label applies, I am totally enamored of Samuel Ligon's Wonderland. There are many passages to savor and worthy of reading aloud to friends and foe alike. And it's so nicely packaged too!
Denis Johnson is one of those authors I have a hard time talking about without lapsing into absurd superlatives, so I won't even try to restrain my praise for his latest (and, sadly, last) story collection. The title story alone is worth the price of admission, and ranks among the best short stories I have ever read; The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is as disarmingly funny and as sneakily sublime as anything Johnson has written. We are lucky that Denis Johnson, who sadly passed away last May, has graced us with this final masterpiece--it's as fine a swan song as any author could hope for.
A supremely weird, supremely good collection of short stories and vignettes. Voltaire Night left me instilled with a bizarre and almost unsettling feeling of gratitude. The First Full Thought of her Life took my breath away. The sense of what I can only describe as casual foreboding - the nonchalant acknowledgment that in the end, whether literally or metaphorically, we're all just ticking bombs - that permeates Wait Till You See Me Dance gave me pause again and again. Which is a long way of saying that it's just an excellent, odd, exciting book, one that will stick with me for a long time.
Between her two latest books — this story collection and her similarly excellent 2015 novel Eileen —Ottessa Moshfegh has become one of my favorite fiction writers working today. The stories in Homesick for Another World are dark and unredemptive; they find humor in misery and relish abjection. They are peopled with characters riddled with shame and self-loathing, leading to bizarre and sometimes cruel behavior. They are, in short, probably not for everyone. But readers with a taste for the bitter stuff will find Moshfegh’s writing delightfully distasteful and full of surprising moments and incisive commentary.
I credit Adam at the Lake Forest Park store, for introducing me to Robert Aickman. At the time, Cold Hand in Mine was not in print, but his books of "strange stories" are now in wonderful paperback editions by Faber & Faber. The terrors within these pages are subtle and disquieting. Aickman has been compared to Algernon Blackwood and M.R. James, but he may even be better those those acknowledged masters of unsettling fiction. These timeless and creepy stories are extremely well-written and I want to do my part to ensure that Aickman finds the reading audience that he deserves.