Short story collections are often underrated. They can’t be made into blockbuster movies and rarely make the bestseller lists. For some reason, the general populace is somewhat averse to short stories. Which is silly. Short stories are like fireworks. Short, loud bursts of color and crackling spirit. They light up the firmament with characters we get to know in a short amount of time, and grow to love deeply. There are a thousand novels that can accurately portray a world with characters that seem as real as your next door neighbor, with realities as obvious and vivid as your couch.
The genius of the short story lies in its brevity – we get a glimpse into a universe that we can only imagine beyond the few pages of its existence. Another brilliant element about the short story is that it can be read in a single sitting, perfect for the busy #metizagirl or #girlboss on a lunch break! Here are three short story collections by amazing writers who have mastered the art of the tiny universe;
Self-Help – Lorrie Moore
This collection is full of wry, witty, and amusing stories. Moore uses tiny details about her characters to reveal them slowly and surely to the reader, while simultaneously drawing us into their idiosyncratic yet universal worlds. The story “How to Be an Other Woman” is told in second person, a form Moore uses masterfully. The young woman in question is also the reader. The plot centers around the highs and lows of being the other woman in a relationship. Dramatic, yes?
Can’t and Won’t – Lydia Davis
This collection is a compendium of Davis’ best work. She specializes in short short fiction, and writes with such clarity and precision that each story is like diving into a clear lake. The characters in her stories are as realistic as your best friend, with as many flaws and brilliant shining moments of glory. “The Dog Hair” is a heart wrenching one paragraph story about a deceased family dog, while “Awake in the Night” explores what we all experience when we can’t sleep. These stories are short enough to be devoured before breakfast, on the car ride to school, or in between homework sessions.
Stranger Things Happen – Kelly Link
If you like your short stories more fantastical than realistic, Link is the one for you. Her stories range from quirky to bizarre, and invite you into universes that are exactly like our own, except they exist a little to the left. In “Travels With the Snow Queen” a young girl goes on a journey to retrieve her lover Kay from the clutches of a witch, then realizes she doesn’t want him back after all. In “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” a dead man writes a letter to his wife as he slowly forgets her name. These stories will expand your imagination and leave you with a renewed sense of wonder about the world.
These short story collections are perfect introductions to the form; they will brighten your day and draw you into worlds that can be devoured in one sitting yet leave you feeling like you have traveled to another country. Enjoy!