Shorts

I’m singing the praises of short fiction in this month’s Atlantic Books Today. So here’s a shout out to a few of my favourites:

Zadie Smith is the Queen, utterly incapable of penning a false sentence. And The Embassy of Cambodia is one of my all-time favourites. 

What is there to say about Lorrie Moore? I have read and re-read her work, divining her secrets, hoping her talent will seep into my bones through osmosis. Her very best story, quite possibly the very best short story anyone has ever written, is: People like that are the only people here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk

Tessa Hadley is the writer I would most like to emulate. Her stories are moody, three-dimensional, full of sensual detail. The graceful way a young girl flexes her toes. The quality of light filtering through sheer curtains. It’s always easy to settle into her worlds because they feel so comfortable, so familiar. Read The Eggy Stone or An Abduction and see for yourself.

Adam Haslett's Notes to my biographer  has it all: a cranky first person narrator, pathos, and bullet points!

I re-discovered Katherine Mansfield recently and fell down the rabbit hole of her online biographies.Check out The Doll’s House, a poignant story about childhood and class.

Frida Walks by Alice Zorn won PrairieFire’s fiction contest a couple of years ago. In this coming of age tale, a young woman with a disability looks, not for love exactly, but for desirability, and acceptance.

Jessica Grant’s enigmatic Messiah deserves to be read out loud and often. Find it in her collection Making Light of Tragedy.

Lisa Moore’s shorts are always worth a read. One of her best is Guard of What, published in The Malahat Review.

Pigs Can’t Fly by Shyam Selvadurai is all innocence and wit, the story of a little boy butting heads with his bossy cousin. Read it in his debut collection of linked stories, Funny Boy.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Going Ashore is the final installment in a trio of linked shorts called “Hema and Kaushik.” I have a soft spot for linked stories, especially ones that build to a startling crescendo as these three do. They are found in her collection Unaccustomed Earth.

And speaking of linked collections here are three good ones: