LitStack Rec: Werewolves in Their Youth & Safe From the Sea

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Werewolves in Their Youth: Stories, by Michael Chabon Not all scary stories are for Halloween. Michael Chabon’s, Werewolves in Their Youth isn’t a horror or sci-fi, though Chabon is a fan. The collection, which appeared in 1999, assembles nine stories that feature characters who move about in the placid light of day, and for whom some [….]

LitStack Recs: Top reads & Winterdance

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Are books, and stories, getting better? That is, are they getting richer, stronger, and more compelling? My answer is an unequivocal yes. Stories and voices we haven’t heard before are being published, and familiar stories, like those of love and relationships, are being told in a new way, with fresh eyes. This year contained all [….]

Litstaff Rec: These Charming People & LaRose

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These Charming People, stories by Michael Arlen In the period just after World War One, some British writers were fascinated by the fast set. These were the Bright Young Things of the nineteen twenties—the decadent young people whose disillusionment with the Great War caused old ideas about society and customs to fall away, and paving [….]

LitStack Recs: Who Do You Love & Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

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Who Do You Love: Stories, by Jean Thompson May is #ShortStoryMonth, and this is third in a series of LitStackRecs on great short story collections. In my favorite short stories, something singular happens to a character, usually out of nowhere, a setting that is exceptionally vivid—almost a character in itself—and a narrator who can see [….]

LitStack Recs: Thunderstruck & Other Stories & Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

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Thunderstruck & Other Stories, by Elizabeth McCracken With April declared National Poetry Month, May is now officially Short Story Month, dedicated to reading, sharing, applauding and promoting the short story. On Twitter, Knopf has launched the hashtag #shortreads with links to stories, events, appreciations and advice. Given my deep appreciation of short stories, it seemed [….]

LitStack Rec: The Empty Family & The Last Witness

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The Empty Family, by Colm Tóibín  Colm Tóibín’s story collection, The Empty Family (released January 4, 2011) is one I always keep close by, dipping into the pages to take in the voices of its starkly vivid narrators. The prose is emotionally precise in the tradition of William Trevor and Edna O’Brien, as Tóibín’s stories [….]

2016 Pushcart Prize XL: Best of the Small Presses & John Saturnall’s Feast

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2016 Pushcart Prize XL: Best of the Small Presses, edited by Bill Henderson with Pushcart Prize editors There are best-of anthologies I look forward to each year—short stories, essays, travel writing—most of which are contained in the volumes published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. These are reliably excellent reading and the source of some of my [….]

LitStack Recs: Cutting Teeth & Back Roads and Frontal Lobes

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Cutting Teeth, by Julia Fierro When October comes, I’m always caught off guard by how quickly summer has gone. Afternoons at the beach or by the lake already feel distant. For parents especially, summer vanishes in the transition of back to school—but as the summers pass, you come to miss the time of children in [….]

LitStack Rec: Thunderstruck & Other Stories & Baseball’s Great Experiment

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Thunderstruck & Other Stories, by Elizabeth McCracken Early on in Elizabeth McCracken’s extraordinary story collection, Thunderstruck, a grieving mother instructs her seventeen year-old son to seal up the room of his dead sister. This, she imagines will somehow purge the house of the evil that caused her daughter’s lymphoma. “Don’t touch a thing. Just seal [….]

LitStack Recs: The Coast of Chicago & The Dovekeepers

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The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek I can still recall first reading Stuart Dybek’s classic short story “We Didn’t” in Antaeus (Issue No. 70, Spring 1993), dumbstruck by the beauty of the images—the teenagers on the beach tangled in their Navajo blanket, the coconut suntan oil and lip gloss-colored lake along the beach at [….]