I love short stories. Below are the short Story Collections I read this year with a short review.
What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky by Leslie Nneka Arimah. I’ve already read this collection twice. There is a particular magical entrancement that occurs when reading these stories. I think it’s because the stories feel like they are coming from a real place. Whether that is from a memory, a place in the writer’s mind or heart these stories get at you with detail, action, emotion, and so on. The wording in the beginning of the first story confused me at first, but I think the intention was to make sure the reader pays attention. It worked. I slowed down and the words started to click. This is one of the best collection of short stories I’ve read to date. Favorite story from the collection: It’s a tie between Who Will Greet You When You Get Home (crazy-good) and What is a Volcano. Both stories are, I think, about desire and how that can turn us inside out. What is a Volcano is in the style of a fable which I absolutely love. Would recommend all day, everyday. 5 stars.
Unclean Jobs for Woman and Girls by Alissa Nutting. This book is so intricately different from anything I’ve ever read before. Some people might say this book is weird, but it’s weird in all the best ways. The stories are just flavorful, uninhibited, and often hilarious. Favorite story from the collection: Delivery Woman. In this story a naive woman decides to rekindle her relationship with her criminal mother who has been frozen for her crimes. Despite trying to make the best of the situation the woman’s naivety and foolishness get the best of her. A close second would be Ant Colony where a woman living with ants inside of her obtains the insects special abilities. Would highly recommend. 4 stars.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado. I had a lot of expectations for this book. Usually the buzz around a book catches my attention, but doesn’t necessarily push me to run out and get the book immediately. This time, though, I was all in, ready to get lost in the pages of this eight story collection. The writing is quite good, thoughtful, purposeful, and drizzled with beautiful language. I also appreciate the experimental aspects of stories like Especially Heinous, a take on Law & Order: SVU that combines a type of fan fiction-esque recap of episodes. This story in particular is dark and gritty but also highlights the burden on victims and the people trying to help them. For me, though, the story itself dragged. The Husband Stitch, Inventory, The Resident, and Eight Bites picked up the slack for me. Favorite story from the collection: Eight Bites. The story examines the relationship a woman has with her body, how she sees herself, and why she feels the need to have a procedure that all of her sisters have had. It’s chilling to see an example of what happens to a body discarded. Would recommend for discussion purposes. 3.5 stars
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. An emotional read from start to finish. I found myself frustrated and exhausted for the women in these stories and for myself because the scenarios are not far fetched for Women. Gay’s writing is beautiful and savory. I found the more unusual stories the best. Requiem for a Glass Heart, Water, All Its Weight, and I Am a Knife, to me have speculative fiction elements to them. Favorite story from the collection: North Country. This story seems to have one of the happier of endings of all the stories and in this collection that holds weight. It provides a reprieve from the more violent and exhausting stories. Would recommend (with a warning to have tissues and a strong disposition at the ready). 3.5 stars
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. I kept seeing Angela Carter’s name in different articles about the retelling of stories. The Bloody Chamber was the book that often accompanied her name so I thought I would check it out. Every story in this book is a retelling of stories, often from a female point of view. I’ll be honest for me it was hard to discern which stories were being retold, with the exception of Puss in Boots and a Beauty and the Beast type story. These stories are vivid and chilling. The title story The Bloody Chamber, a retelling of the Blackbeard Legend gave me nightmares after reading it. The Snow Child was also particularly brutal, I thought. It was shorter than most of the other stories and really came full force with its imagery. I remember muttering, Damn! after finishing it. Favorite story from the collection: Puss in Boots. This is an adult story all about lust. Puss is the most hilarious conniving character I’ve read in a long time and he cared not about how he got what he wanted to help his master and himself. Overall a good read. Would recommend. 3.5 stars.
Blue Talk & Love by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan. The stories are set in various places in New York and gives the collection a wonderful connecting point. Black women and girls are given a voice that shows them for who they are and who they want to be. I couldn’t predict the way any of the stories would end. I loved that. The writing is fresh and original. I felt engaged with all the stories. Favorite story from the collection: A Strange People. In this story conjoined female twins born into slavery make their fame as performers. Would highly recommend. 4 stars.