Three Short Story Collections to Read in 2018
For those of us who feel life is a treadmill set several speeds too fast (read: all of us), finishing a novel before you’ve forgotten the beginning is often a pleasure reserved only for the most indulgent of beach vacations. Long a forgotten cousin of the novel, the short story rarely receives the attention and adoration it is worthy of, but is your key to satisfyingly efficient literary consumption.
Of course, its efficiency comes in its length and potency. Immerse yourself in its entirety, be consumed by its brilliance, and be done in several pages. Read one at lunch before going back to work, read one before bed, or read one in that glorious space of early morning when you are the only one awake. The short story form packs a punch with a quick wind up that can leave you breathless with a novel’s worth of revelation.
These three books and their stories, while all markedly unique in their approach, seem to gather the straws of the past year and its conversations, revolutions and revelations as a riotous bale of feminist thought and commentary, tied together for a new generation.
Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado (available now)
If this is the only book you read in 2018, you’re good; Carmen Maria Machado is a straight up genius. Her debut Her Body and Other Parties: Stories offers an unblinking portrait of the tenebrosity of womenhood, its violence and complicity, its vulnerability and alarm. It offers roundly beaten and unapologetic truths that are poignant and necessary. Read. This. Book.
The Merry Spinster, Tales of Everyday Horror, Mallory Ortberg (available 2018)
You may know Mallory Ortberg better as the sage, advice-giving Dear Prudence, of Slate. The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror at first glance masquerades as modern gothic fairytale satire, riffing on such familiar tales as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, but it is indeed, much more; Ortberg offers allegorical counsel and an Everywoman kind of horror of recognition. It made my skin crawl and I couldn’t look away.
A Selfie As Big As The Ritz, Lara Williams (available 2018)
A Selfie as Big as the Ritz: Stories is a slow burn kind of collection that chews on the loneliness of a woman’s search for place, purpose and self-recognition. Hard-jawed and messy, Williams gives us characters who are different and the same: transitional, untethered, and vulnerable to the whims of passively bewildered men. Read and remember your own past reckonings with your woman self, or see your current struggles mirrored back to you now.
By Carlie Condon