Friday, August 10, 2018

recent westerns


I do hope everyone had a chance to register for the 2018 JCPLA Staff Development Day scheduled for Friday, August 24th at the Homewood Library! The programs look wonderful, Librarian and Paralibrarian of the Year awards will be given out, AND I’ve heard that the lunchtime prizes are great!

The next RART meeting will be on Wednesday, October 10 at 9am at the Springville Road Library and the topic up for discussion will be fiction from an animal’s point of view. We were originally scheduled to be at Pinson in October, but they’ll be moving in to their new digs at that time so we’ll visit them in December instead.

It’s voting time of year and I am pleased and proud to serve another year as moderator of the Reader’s Advisory Roundtable. J I’m currently setting up our venues for 2019, so I’ll send out a list of topics and locations for next year as soon as I have them scheduled.

This month, we discussed recently published western novels, straying a bit into settler fiction along the way.


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Die by the Gun by William W. Johnstone

"Dewey 'Mac' McKenzie is wanted for a killing he didn't commit. He saved his hide once by signing on as a cattle drive chuckwagon cook and bolting the territories. Turned out Mac was as good at fixing vittles as he was at dodging bullets. But Mac's enemies are hungry for more, and they've hired a gang of ruthless killers to turn up the heat. Mac's only hope is to join another cattle drive on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, deep in New Mexico Territory. The journey ahead is even deadlier than the hired guns behind him. His trail boss is an ornery cuss. His crew mate is the owner's spoiled son. And the route is overrun with kill-crazy rustlers and bloodthirsty Comanche. Worse, Mac's would-be killers are closing in fast. But when the cattle owner's son is kidnapped, the courageous young cook has no choice but to jump out of the frying pan, and into the fire"
Samuel, Springville Road Library

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Dead and Buried by Tim Bryant

Wilkie John Liquorish may be a young man, but he’s no greenhorn. So far in his short, hard life, he’s dug graves, driven cattle, and nearly dangled from the end of a hangman’s noose—no thanks to his ungentlemanly enemy, Gentleman Jack Delaney. Now Wilkie’s been newly deputized as a Texas Ranger—and the real fun begins . . .

At Fort Concho, Wilkie John receives word that a bounty hunter is tracking the notorious outlaw known as Phantom Bill. Wilkie John has every reason to join the party: duty, honor, redemption, maybe even fortune and fame. But he has one reason to be wary: the bounty hunter is Gentleman Jack. He tried to kill Wilkie John once. This time, he might succeed . . .
Samuel, Springville Road Library

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Savage Country by Robert Olmstead

“The year was 1873 and all about was the evidence of boom and bust, shattered dreams, foolish ambition, depredation, shame, greed, and cruelty . . .”

Onto this broken Western stage rides Michael Coughlin, a Civil War veteran with an enigmatic past, come to town to settle his dead brother’s debt. Together with his widowed sister-in-law, Elizabeth, bankrupted by her husband’s folly and death, they embark on a massive, and hugely dangerous, buffalo hunt. Elizabeth hopes to salvage something of her former life and the lives of the hired men and their families who now depend on her; the buffalo hunt that her husband had planned, she now realizes, was his last hope for saving the land.

Elizabeth and Michael plunge south across the aptly named “dead line” demarcating Indian Territory from their home state of Kansas. Nothing could have prepared them for the dangers: rattlesnakes, rabies, wildfire, lightning strikes, blue northers, flash floods—and human treachery. With the Comanche in winter quarters, Elizabeth and Michael are on borrowed time, and the cruel work of harvesting the buffalo is unraveling their souls.

Bracing, direct, and quintessentially American, Olmstead’s gripping narrative follows that infamous hunt, which drove the buffalo to near extinction. Savage Country is the story of a moment in our history in which mass destruction of an animal population was seen as a road to economic salvation. But it’s also the intimate story of how that hunt changed Michael and Elizabeth forever.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal Library

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In this novel authorized by Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before--Caroline Ingalls, "Ma" in Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.
The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline's new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles' hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier's most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal Library

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At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck – in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the fifty apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.

1853: Their youngest child Robert is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert’s past makes an unexpected appearance he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last.

Chevalier tells a fierce, beautifully crafted story in At the Edge of the Orchard, her most graceful and richly imagined work yet.
Michelle, Irondale Library

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El Paso by Winston Groom

Long fascinated with the Mexican Revolution and the vicious border wars of the early twentieth century, Winston Groom brings to life a much-forgotten period of history in this sprawling saga of heroism, injustice, and love. El Paso pits the legendary Pancho Villa against a thrill-seeking railroad tycoon known only as the Colonel―whose fading fortune is tied up in a colossal ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico. But when Villa kidnaps the Colonel’s grandchildren and absconds into the Sierra Madre, the aging New England patriarch and his son head to El Paso, hoping to find a group of cowboys brave enough to hunt down the Generalissimo. Replete with gunfights, daring escapes, and an unforgettable bullfight, El Paso becomes an indelible portrait of the American Southwest in the waning days of the frontier, one that is “sure to entertain” (Jackson Clarion-Ledger).
Michelle, Irondale Library

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Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.
Michelle, Irondale Library

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Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian whore. In search of high-stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins— before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology—when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History Dept

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Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . . 

That was America in 1881.

All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26 when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt.

Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.

Epitaph tells Wyatt’s real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History Dept

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The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt

Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living-and whom he does it for.

With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters-losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life-and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.
Maura, Trussville Library

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The Round House by Louise Erdrich

One of the most revered novelists of our time—a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life—Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love MedicineThe Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction—at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture. 
Maura, Trussville Library

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The Son by Philipp Meyer

Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power, The Son is a gripping and utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American west with rare emotional acuity, even as it presents an intimate portrait of one family across two centuries.

Eli McCullough is just twelve-years-old when a marauding band of Comanche storm his Texas homestead and brutally murder his mother and sister, taking him as a captive. Despite their torture and cruelty, Eli--against all odds--adapts to life with the Comanche, learning their ways, their language, taking on a new name, finding a place as the adopted son of the chief of the band, and fighting their wars against not only other Indians, but white men, too-complicating his sense of loyalty, his promised vengeance, and his very understanding of self. But when disease, starvation, and westward expansion finally decimate the Comanche, Eli is left alone in a world in which he belongs nowhere, neither white nor Indian, civilized or fully wild.

Deftly interweaving Eli’s story with those of his son, Peter, and his great-granddaughter, JA, The Son deftly explores the legacy of Eli’s ruthlessness, his drive to power, and his life-long status as an outsider, even as the McCullough family rises to become one of the richest in Texas, a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege.

Harrowing, panoramic, and deeply evocative, The Son is a fully realized masterwork in the greatest tradition of the American canon-an unforgettable novel that combines the narrative prowess of Larry McMurtry with the knife edge sharpness of Cormac McCarthy.
Maura, Trussville Library

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Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

Young Willie is on the run, having fled his small Texas farm when an infamous local landowner murdered his father. A man named Loving takes him in and trains him in the fine arts of shooting, riding, reading, and gardening. When Loving dies, Willie re-christens himself Nat Love in tribute to his mentor, and heads west.

In Deadwood, South Dakota Territory, Nat becomes a Buffalo Soldier and is befriended by Wild Bill Hickok. After winning a famous shooting match, Nat's peerless marksmanship and charm earn him the nickname Deadwood Dick, as well as a beautiful woman. But the hellhounds are still on his trail, and they brutally attack Nat Love's love. Pursuing the men who have driven his wife mad, Nat heads south for a final, deadly showdown against those who would strip him of his home, his love, his freedom, and his life.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal Library

GENERAL DISCUSSION

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Centennial by James Michener

Written to commemorate the Bicentennial in 1976, James A. Michener’s magnificent saga of the West is an enthralling celebration of the frontier. Brimming with the glory of America’s past, the story of Colorado—the Centennial State—is manifested through its people: Lame Beaver, the Arapaho chieftain and warrior, and his Comanche and Pawnee enemies; Levi Zendt, fleeing with his child bride from the Amish country; the cowboy, Jim Lloyd, who falls in love with a wealthy and cultured Englishwoman, Charlotte Seccombe. In Centennial, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters are brought together in the dramatic conflicts that shape the destiny of the legendary West—and the entire country.

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One of our members found a curated list on NoveList titled, “The Weird Wild West:”

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Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

"You ain't gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. 'Hôtel' has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me."

Set in the late nineteenth century-in a city a lot like what we now call Seattle Underground-when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house-a resourceful group-and the poor and the powerful of the town.

Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap-a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Hard on the heels of that horrifying discovery comes a lawman who has been chasing this killer for months. Marshal Bass Reeves is closing in on his man, and he's not about to reject any help he can get, even if it comes from girl who works in the Hôtel Mon Cheri.

Elizabeth Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the Old Steampunk West with a light touch in Karen's own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science in Karen Memory.

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The Queen of Swords by R.S. Belcher

1720. Escaping the gallows, Anne Bonney, the infamous pirate queen, sets sail in search of a fabulous treasure said to be hiding in a lost city of bones somewhere in the heart of Africa. But what she finds is a destiny she never expected . . . .

1870. Maude Stapleton is a respectable widow raising a daughter on her own. Few know, however, that Maude belongs to an ancient order of assassins, the Daughters of Lilith, and heir to the legacy of Anne Bonney, whose swashbuckling exploits blazed a trail that Maude must now follow―if she ever wants to see her kidnapped daughter again!

Searching for her missing child, come hell or high water, Maude finds herself caught in the middle of a secret war between the Daughters of Lilith and their ancestral enemies, the monstrous Sons of Typhon, inhuman creatures spawned by primordial darkness, she embarks on a perilous voyage that will ultimately lead her to the long-lost secret of Anne Bonney―and the Father of All Monsters.
One of the most popular characters from The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana now ventures beyond the Weird West on a boldly imaginative, globe-spanning adventure of her own!

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Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

Stephen King's The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle's novel Dark Alchemy.

Some secrets are better left buried …

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming seeking clues to her father's disappearance years ago. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up—desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain—her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. 

Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast—or die next.

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Nine of Stars by Laura Bickle

From critically acclaimed author Laura Bickle (Dark Alchemy) comes the first novel in the Wildlands series. Longmire meets Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson in this exciting new series that shows how weird and wonderful the West can truly be.

Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors – especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill - a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.

It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all – before the trail turns deathly cold.

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Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

Nettie Lonesome dreams of a greater life than toiling as a slave in the sandy desert. But when a stranger attacks her, Nettie wins more than the fight.

Now she's got friends, a good horse, and a better gun. But if she can't kill the thing haunting her nightmares and stealing children across the prairie, she'll lose it all -- and never find out what happened to her real family.

Wake of Vultures is the first novel of the Shadow series featuring the fearless Nettie Lonesome.

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Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen

The sequel to Wake of Vultures and second novel in Lila Bowen's widely acclaimed Shadow series.

Nettie Lonesome made a leap -- not knowing what she'd become. But now her destiny as the Shadow is calling.

A powerful alchemist is leaving a trail of dead across the prairie. And Nettie must face the ultimate challenge: side with her friends and the badge on her chest or take off alone on a dangerous mission that is pulling her inexorably toward the fight of her life.

When it comes to monsters and men, the world isn't black and white. What good are two wings and a gun when your enemy can command a conspiracy of ravens?

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Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

A scavenger robot wanders in the wasteland created by a war that has destroyed humanity in this evocative post-apocalyptic "robot western" from the critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, and noted film critic.

It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI—One World Intelligence—the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality—their personality—for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.

One of these resisters is Brittle, a scavenger robot trying to keep a deteriorating mind and body functional in a world that has lost all meaning. Although unable to experience emotions like a human, Brittle is haunted by the terrible crimes the robot population perpetrated on humanity. As Brittle roams the Sea of Rust, a large swath of territory that was once the Midwest, the loner robot slowly comes to terms with horrifyingly raw and vivid memories—and nearly unbearable guilt.

Sea of Rust is both a harsh story of survival and an optimistic adventure. A vividly imagined portrayal of ultimate destruction and desperate tenacity, it boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, yet where a human-like AI strives to find purpose among the ruins.

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Devil’s Call by J. Danielle Dorn

On a dark night in the summer of 1859, three men enter the home of Dr. Matthew Callahan and shoot him dead in front of his pregnant wife. Unbeknownst to them, Li Lian, his wife, hails from a long line of women gifted in ways that scare most folks―the witches of the MacPherson clan―and her need for vengeance is as vast and unforgiving as the Great Plains themselves.

Written to the child she carries, Devil’s Call traces Li Lian’s quest, from the Nebraska Territory, to Louisiana, to the frozen Badlands, to bring to justice the monster responsible for shooting her husband in the back. This long-rifled witch will stop at nothing​―​and risk everything​―​in her showdown with evil.

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Dr. Potter’s Medicine Show by Eric Scott Fischl

The year is 1878. Dr Alexander Potter, disgraced Civil War surgeon, now snake-oil salesman, travels the Pacific Northwest with a disheartened company of strongmen, fortune-tellers, and musical whores. Under their mysterious and murderous leader they entertain the masses while hawking the Chock-a-saw Sagwa Tonic, a vital elixir touted to cure all ills both physical and spiritual. For a few unfortunate customers, however, the Sagwa offers something much, much worse.

For drunken dentist Josiah McDaniel, the Sagwa has taken everything from him; in the hired company of two accidental outlaws, the bickering brothers Solomon Parker and Agamemnon Rideout, he looks to revenge himself on the Elixir’s creator: Dr. Morrison Hedwith, businessman, body-thief, and secret alchemist, a man who is running out of time.

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River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

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Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

Isobel, upon her sixteenth birthday, makes the choice to work for the Boss called the Devil by some, in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel circuit through the territory helping those in need. As we all know, where there is magic there is chaos…and death.

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Hell’s Bounty by Joe R. Lansdale

If the Western town of Falling Rock isn’t dangerous enough due to drunks, fast guns and greedy miners, it gets a real dose of ugly when a soulless, dynamite-loving bounty hunter named Smith rides into town to bring back a bounty, dead or alive—preferably dead. In the process, Smith sets off an explosive chain of events that send him straight to the waiting room in Hell where he is offered a one-time chance to absolve himself.

Satan, a bartender also known as Snappy, wants Smith to hurry back to earth and put a very bad hombre out of commission. Someone Smith has already met in the town of Falling Rock. A fellow named Quill, who has, since Smith’s departure, sold his soul to The Old Ones, and has been possessed by a nasty, scaly, winged demon with a cigar habit and a bad attitude. Quill wants to bring about the destruction of the world, not to mention the known universe, and hand it all over: moon, stars, black spaces, cosmic dust, as well as all of humanity, to the nasty Lovecraftian deities that wait on the other side of the veil. It’s a bargain made in worse places than Hell.

Even Satan can’t stand for that kind of dark business. The demon that has possessed Quill, a former co-worker of Satan, has gone way too far, and there has to be a serious correction.

And though Smith isn’t so sure humanity is that big of a loss, the alternative of him cooking eternally while being skewered on a meat hook isn’t particularly appealing. Smith straps on a gift from Snappy, a holstered Colt pistol loaded with endless silver ammunition, and riding a near-magical horse named Shadow, carrying an amazing deck of cards that can summon up some of the greatest gunfighters and killers the west has ever known, he rides up from Hell, and back into Falling Rock, a town that can be entered, but can’t be left.

It’s a opportunity not only for Smith to experience action and adventure and deal with the living dead and all manner of demonic curses and terrible prophecies, it’s a shot at love with a beautiful, one-eyed, redheaded-darling with a whip, a woman named Payday. But it’s an even bigger shot at redemption.

Saddle up, partner. It’s time to ride into an old fashioned pulp and horror adventure full of gnashing teeth, exploding dynamite, pistol fire, and a few late night kisses.

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The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

Jack Parker thought he'd already seen his fair share of tragedy. His grandmother was killed in a farm accident when he was barely five years old. His parents have just succumbed to the smallpox epidemic sweeping turn-of-the-century East Texas--orphaning him and his younger sister, Lula.

Then catastrophe strikes on the way to their uncle's farm, when a traveling group of bank-robbing bandits murder Jack's grandfather and kidnap his sister. With no elders left for miles, Jack must grow up fast and enlist a band of heroes the likes of which has never been seen if his sister stands any chance at survival. But the best he can come up with is a charismatic, bounty-hunting dwarf named Shorty, a grave-digging son of an ex-slave named Eustace, and a street-smart woman-for-hire named Jimmie Sue who's come into some very intimate knowledge about the bandits (and a few members of Jack's extended family to boot).

In the throes of being civilized, East Texas is still a wild, feral place. Oil wells spurt liquid money from the ground. But as Jack's about to find out, blood and redemption rule supreme. In The Thicket, award-winning novelist Joe R. Lansdale lets loose like never before, in a rip-roaring adventure equal parts True Grit and Stand by Me--the perfect introduction to an acclaimed writer whose work has been called "as funny and frightening as anything that could have been dreamed up by the Brothers Grimm--or Mark Twain" (New York Times Book Review).

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Medicine for the Dead by Arianne Thompson

The story of Appaloosa Elim continues.
Two years ago, the crow-god Marhuk sent his grandson to Sixes.
Two nights ago, a stranger picked up his gun and shot him.
Two hours ago, the funeral party set out for the holy city of Atali'Krah, braving the wastelands to bring home the body of Dulei Marhuk.

Out in the wastes, one more corpse should hardly make a difference. But the blighted landscape has been ravaged by drought, twisted by violence, and warped by magic - and no-one is immune. Vuchak struggles to keep the party safe from monsters, marauders, and his own troubled mind. Weisei is being eaten alive by a strange illness. And fearful, guilt-wracked Elim hopes he's only imagining the sounds coming from Dulei's coffin.

As their supplies dwindle and tensions mount, the desert exacts a terrible price from its pilgrims - one that will be paid with the blood of the living, and the peace of the dead.

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Six Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

Forget the dark, enchanted forest. Picture instead a masterfully evoked Old West where you are more likely to find coyotes as the seven dwarves. Insert into this scene a plain-spoken, appealing narrator who relates the history of our heroine’s parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. Although her mother’s life ended as hers began, so begins a remarkable tale: equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, this is an utterly enchanting story…at once familiar and entirely new.

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Straight Outta Tombstone edited by David Boop

Top authors take on the classic western, with a weird twist. Includes new stories by Larry Correia and Jim Butcher!

Come visit the Old West, the land where gang initiations, ride-by shootings and territory disputes got their start. But these tales aren’t the ones your grandpappy spun around a campfire, unless he spoke of soul-sucking ghosts, steam-powered demons and wayward aliens.

Here then are seventeen stories that breathe new life in the Old West. Among them: Larry Correia explores the roots of his best-selling Monster Hunter International series in "Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers." Jim Butcher reveals the origin of one of the Dresden Files' most popular characters in "Fistful of Warlock." And Kevin J. Anderson's Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., finds himself in a showdown in "High Midnight." Plus stories from Alan Dean Foster, Sarah A. Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael A. Stackpole, and many more.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

short stories


The next meeting of the JCPLA Reader’s Advisory Roundtable will be on August 8, 2018 at the Irondale Public Library and the topic up for discussion is westerns, but only those published within the last 5 years.  We all know Max Brand, Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, Elmer Kelton, etc so let’s branch out and see what other novels are out there!

Mark your calendars on Friday, August 24th for the JCPLA Staff Development Day at the Homewood Library!  Keep your eyes on your email for program and registration information in coming weeks!

Today, RART met to discuss short story collections!

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After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones
WINNER, Best Collection of the Year, THIS IS HORROR
NOMINATED, Best Collection of the Year, BRAM STOKER AWARDS
NOMINATED, Best Collection of the Year, SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARDS

The fifteen stories in After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones explore the horrors and fears of the supernatural and the everyday. Included are two original stories, several rarities and out of print narratives, as well as a few "best of the year" inclusions. In "Thirteen," horrors lurk behind the flickering images on the big screen. "Welcome to the Reptile House" reveals the secrets that hide in our flesh. In "The Black Sleeve of Destiny," a single sweatshirt leads to unexpectedly dark adventures. And the title story, "After the People Lights Have Gone Off," is anything but your typical haunted house story.

With an introduction by Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale, and featuring fifteen full-page illustrations by Luke Spooner, After the People Lights Have Gone Off gets under your skin and stays there.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal Library

In these unconventional, interconnected stories of first-person narratives that also include text messages and Facebook posts, gay men look for love, steal office supplies, hook up on Grindr, bake pies, see therapists, have threesomes with ghosts, and fear happiness. With wry abandon and a beguiling heart, Everything Is Awful and You're a Terrible Person is a deadpan, tragicomic exploration of love, desire, and dysfunction in the twenty-first century.

Daniel Zomparelli is editor and founder of PoetryIs Dead magazine, and the author of the poetry collections Davie Street Translations and (with Dina Del Bucchia) Rom Com. This is his first work of fiction.
Samuel, Springville Road

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Large Animals by Jess Arndt
A Buzzfeed Best Fiction Book of 2017 • An Entropymagazine Best Book of 2017

“Jess Arndt’s Large Animals is wildly original, even as it joins in with the classics of loaded, outlaw literature. Acerbic, ecstatic, hilarious, psychedelic, and affecting in turn, this is an electric debut.” —Maggie Nelson, National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author of TheArgonauts

Jess Arndt's striking debut collection confronts what it means to have a body. Boldly straddling the line between the imagined and the real, the masculine and the feminine, the knowable and the impossible, these twelve stories are an exhilarating and profoundly original expression of voice. In “Jeff,” Lily Tomlin confuses Jess for Jeff, instigating a dark and hilarious identity crisis. In “Together,” a couple battles a mysterious STD that slowly undoes their relationship, while outside a ferocious weed colonizes their urban garden. And in “Contrails,” a character on the precipice of a seismic change goes on a tour of past lovers, confronting their own reluctance to move on.

Arndt’s subjects are canny observers even while they remain dangerously blind to their own truest impulses. Often unnamed, these narrators challenge the limits of language—collectively, their voices create a transgressive new formal space that makes room for the queer, the nonconforming, the undefined. And yet, while they crave connection, love, and understanding, they are constantly at risk of destroying themselves. Large Animals pitches toward the heart, pushing at all our most tender parts—our sex organs, our geography, our words, and the tendons and nerves of our culture.
Samuel, Springville Road

"Darkly funny and brilliantly human, urgently fantastical and implacably realistic. This is one of the best short story collections I've read in years. It should be required reading for anyone who's trying to understand America in 2017." —Paul La Farge, author of The Night Ocean

The eight stories in Things to Do When You're Goth in the Country paint a vivid image of people living on the fringes in America, people who don't do what you might expect them to. Not stories of triumph over adversity, but something completely other.

Described in language that is brilliantly sardonic, Woods's characters return repeatedly to places where they don't belong—often the places where they were born. In "Zombie," a coming-of-age story like no other, two young girls find friendship with a mysterious woman in the local cemetery. "Take the Way Home That Leads Back to Sullivan Street" describes a lesbian couple trying to repair their relationship by dropping acid at a Mensa party. In "A New Mohawk," a man in romantic pursuit of a female political activist becomes inadvertently much more familiar with the Palestine/Israel conflict than anyone would have thought possible. And in the title story, Woods brings us into the mind of a queer goth teenager who faces ostracism from her small-town evangelical church.

In the background are the endless American wars and occupations and too many early deaths of friends and family. This is fiction that is fresh and of the moment, even as it is timeless.
Samuel, Springville Road

Folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up some of the most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time.
Michelle, Irondale

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series that was hosted and produced by Alfred Hitchcock; the program aired on CBS and NBC between 1955 and 1965. It featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time it premiered on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades. Time magazine named it one of "The 100 Best TV Shows of all time". The Writers Guild of America ranked it #79 on their list of the 101 Best-Written TV Series tying it with Monty Python's Flying Circus, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Upstairs, Downstairs.

A series of literary anthologies with the running title Alfred Hitchcock Presents were issued to capitalize on the success of the television series. One volume, devoted to stories that censors wouldn't allow to be adapted for broadcast, was entitled Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do on TV—though eventually several of the stories collected were adapted.
Michelle, Irondale

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The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
From personal loss to phantom diseases, The Empathy Exams is a bold and brilliant collection, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Essay Collection of Spring 2014

Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison's visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another's pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain―real and imagined, her own and others'―Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory―from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration―in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace.
Michelle, Irondale

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A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
In 1955, with this short story collection, Flannery O'Connor firmly laid claim to her place as one of the most original and provocative writers of her generation. Steeped in a Southern Gothic tradition that would become synonymous with her name, these stories show O'Connor's unique, grotesque view of life-- infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behavior, confronted by the necessity of salvation.

With these classic stories-- including "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," "Good Country People," "The Displaced Person," and seven other acclaimed tales-- O'Connor earned a permanent place in the hearts of American readers.

"Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O'Connor's characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer." -- Robert Lowell

"In these stories the rural South is, for the first time, viewed by a writer who orthodoxy matches her talent. The results are revolutionary." -- The New York Times Book Review

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) was born in Savannah, Georgia. She earned her M.F.A. at the University of Iowa, but lived most of her life in the South, where she became an anomaly among post-World War II authors-- a Roman Catholic woman whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of God's grace in everyday life. Her work-- novels, short stories, letters, and criticism-- received a number of awards, including the National Book Award.
Michelle, Irondale

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Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
With his characteristic wit that manages to be both scathing and sympathetic, Vonnegut welcomes us to new worlds in this collection of short stories, worlds that are sometimes nightmarish, other times comic, and at all times fascinating. It’s that rarity of short story collections: not a dud in the bunch. My personal favorite is “Who Am I This Time?” in which a shy, nondescript man who is a clerk in a hardware store is the treasure of the local community theatre group because you can put a script in his hands and he instantly becomes the role, as when he auditions for Stanley Kowalski in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire:

“It was a play in itself, the way Harry did it, and Tennessee Williams hadn’t written it all, either. Tennessee Williams didn’t write the part, for instance, where Harry . . . added fifty pounds to his weight and four inches to his height just by picking up a playbook. . . . When he faced us again, he was huge and handsome and conceited and cruel.”

The problem is that when the play is over, Harry is once more a nonentity. But his co-star playing Stella, who has fallen in love with him, has the smarts to figure out a way get him to love her—and keep him loving her.

Several other stories in the collection have become classics of the genre, such as “Harrison Bergeron,” a look at a dystopian future in which everyone is absolutely equal . . . or else. In the title story, “Welcome to the Monkey House,” the future is bleak because of serious overpopulation, but the tale ends on a touching and hopeful note.  “EPICAC” is a twist on the Cyrano de Bergerac plot, and “The Euphio Question” explores just how dangerous it could be to attain perfect peace and happiness.

If you enjoy short stories, especially satiric ones, you will probably find something very much to your taste in Welcome to the Monkey House. And if you like Vonnegut, this is an absolute must for your collection.

(Link to YouTube clip of “Who Am I This Time?” starring Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon, directed by Jonathan Demme)

Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

This collection was a lucky find for me, because I was looking on the shelves for books by Mary Doria Russell, came across this book by Karen Russell, and was instantly enchanted by the title—how could I not pick it up with a title like that? It reminded me of all the childhood times when adults reproached us for bad manners or wild behavior and would ask, “Were you raised by wolves?!”  As it turns out, the girls of St. Lucy’s literally have been—like Mowgli in The Jungle Book—raised by wolves, and the institution exists to help them adapt to the human world. Some girls can, but some are so set in their wild ways and homesick for pack life that they cannot adapt. It is a strange and ominous alternative reality and struck me as a commentary on the isolation of modern life; a lot of our ancestors had much less privacy in their homes and communities but may also have suffered less from loneliness.

Another story that caught my attention was “Z.Z.’s Sleepaway Camp for Disordered Dreamers,”  which caters to some truly unusual sleep-related problems; you won’t find children like this at your ordinary summer camp:

“There’s Felipe, a parasomniac with a co-incidence of spirit possession. He caught his ghost after stealing a guanabana from a roadside tree, unaware that its roots  had wound around a mass grave of Moncada revolutionaries. He’s been possessed by Francisco Pais ever since. This causes him to sleep-detonate imaginary grenades and sleep-yell “Viva la Revolucion!” while sleep-pumping his fist in the air. He is a deceptively apolitical boy by day.”

Or you could try “from Children’s Reminiscences of the Westward Migration,” which sounds like a typical tale of a family who pulls up stakes and moves West in hopes of more land or riches or a better life. And so it is . . . except that the father of these children happens to be a Minotaur, just like the one in Greek mythology, and causes no end of consternation on the trail, especially since he stands “an impressive eighteen hands high” and can hitch himself to the wagon and pull it.


Russell has a gift for beautiful and startling language and always seems to end a story just before I thought it should end—with the result that I wanted more. MUCH more. This may not suit the taste of every reader, but it will have me searching the shelves for more of her work.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

In 2017 Sarah Gailey made her debut with River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, two action-packed novellas that introduced readers to an alternate America in which hippos rule the colossal swamp that was once the Mississippi River. Now readers have the chance to own both novellas in American Hippo, a single, beautiful volume.

Years ago, in an America that never was, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America's greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

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Florida by Lauren Groff
The much-anticipated return of the New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies.

Storms, snakes, sinkholes, and secrets: In Lauren Groff’s Florida, the hot sun shines, but a wild darkness lurks. Florida is a "superlative" book (Boston Globe), "gorgeously weird and limber" (New Yorker), "frequently funny" (San Francisco Chronicle), "brooding, inventive and often moving" (NPR Fresh Air) -- as Groff is recognized as "Florida's unofficial poet laureate, as Joan Didion was for California." (Washington Post)

"Groff's gifts as a writer just keep soaring higher and higher.” – NPR’s Fresh Air

In her thrilling new book, Lauren Groff brings the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.
Maura, Trussville

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The Dubliners by James Joyce
Although James Joyce began these stories of Dublin life in 1904, when he was 22, and had completed them by the end of 1907, they remained unpublished until 1914 — victims of Edwardian squeamishness. Their vivid, tightly focused observations of the life of Dublin's poorer classes, their unconventional themes, coarse language, and mention of actual people and places made publishers of the day reluctant to undertake sponsorship.

Today, however, the stories are admired for their intense and masterly dissection of "dear dirty Dublin," and for the economy and grace with which Joyce invested this youthful fiction. From "The Sisters," the first story, illuminating a young boy's initial encounter with death, through the final piece, "The Dead," considered a masterpiece of the form, these tales represent, as Joyce himself explained, a chapter in the moral history of Ireland that would give the Irish "one good look at themselves." But in the end the stories are not just about the Irish; they represent moments of revelation common to all people.
Maura, Trussville

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Sleep No More by P.D. James
It's not always a question of "whodunit?" Sometimes there's more mystery in the why or how. And although we usually know the unhealthy fates of both victim and perpetrator, what of those clever few who plan and carry out the perfect crime? The ones who aren't brought down even though they're found out? And what about those who do the finding out who witness a murder or who identify the murderer but keep the information to themselves? These are some of the mysteries that we follow through those six stories as we are drawn into the thinking, the memories, the emotional machinations, the rationalizations, the dreams and desires behind murderous cause and effect.
Kelly, Springville Road

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The Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James
Throughout her illustrious career as the Queen of Crime, P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Now, for the first time, four of the best are collected here. In “The Twelve Clues of Christmas,” James’s iconic Scotland Yard detective, Adam Dalgliesh, is drawn into a case that is pure Agatha Christie. In “A Very Commonplace Murder,” a respectable clerk’s secret taste for pornography is only the first reason he finds for not coming forward as a witness to a terrible crime. “The Boxdale Inheritance” finds Dalgliesh reinvestigating a notorious murder at the insistence of his godfather—only to uncover the darkest of family secrets. And in the title story, a bestselling crime novelist describes the crime in which she herself was involved some fifty years ago. Playful and ingenious, shot through with narrative elegance and sly humor, The Mistletoe Murder is a treat for P. D. James’s legions of fans—and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a masterfully wrought whodunit.
Kelly, Springville Road

P. J. O'Rourke's classic, best-selling guided tour of the world's most desolate, dangerous, and desperate places. "Tired of making bad jokes" and believing that "the world outside seemed a much worse joke than anything I could conjure," P. J. O'Rourke traversed the globe on a fun-finding mission, investigating the way of life in the most desperate places on the planet, including Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast. The result is Holidays in Hell--a full-tilt, no-holds-barred romp through politics, culture, and ideology. P.J.'s adventures include storming student protesters' barricades with riot police in South Korea, interviewing Communist insurrectionists in the Philippines, and going undercover dressed in Arab garb in the Gaza Strip.

He also takes a look at America's homegrown horrors as he braves the media frenzy surrounding the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Washington D.C., uncovers the mortifying banality behind the white-bread kitsch of Jerry Falwell's Heritage USA, and survives the stultifying boredom of Harvard's 350th anniversary celebration. Packed with P.J.'s classic riffs on everything from Polish nightlife under communism to Third World driving tips, Holidays in Hell is one of the best-loved books by one of today's most celebrated humorists.
Kelly, Springville Road

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The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of "The Calorie Man" (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and "Yellow Card Man" (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions.
Jon, Avondale

"Edwards and Muller have assembled top-notch talent in this entertaining anthology of 20 original short stories... High-quality entries from the likes of Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, and Ian Rankin, as well as from lesser-known authors such as Bill Beverly, elevate this above similar volumes."--Publishers Weekly

The twenty brand new crime stories in this book have been specially commissioned to celebrate the tenth anniversary of CrimeFest, described by the Guardian as "one of the 50 best festivals in the world." Contributors come from around the world and include the legendary Maj Sjöwall who, together with partner Per Wahlöö, was the originator of Nordic noir. The editors are Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller. Martin Edwards is responsible for many award-winning anthologies and Adrian Muller is one of the co-founders of CrimeFest.

Contributors to Ten Year Stretch are:

Bill Beverly, Simon Brett, Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Jeffery Deaver, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Peter Guttridge, Sophie Hannah, John Harvey, Mick Herron, Donna Moore, Caro Ramsay, Ian Rankin, James Sallis, Zoë Sharp, YrsaSigurðardóttir, Maj Sjöwall, Michael Stanley and Andrew Taylor.
Jon, Avondale


A truly unprecedented literary achievement by author and editor Lawrence Block, a newly-commissioned anthology of seventeen superbly-crafted stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper, including Jeffery Deaver, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Lee Child, and Robert Olen Butler, among many others.

"Edward Hopper is surely the greatest American narrative painter. His work bears special resonance for writers and readers, and yet his paintings never tell a story so much as they invite viewers to find for themselves the untold stories within."

So says Lawrence Block, who has invited seventeen outstanding writers to join him in an unprecedented anthology of brand-new stories: In Sunlight or In Shadow. The results are remarkable and range across all genres, wedding literary excellence to storytelling savvy.

Contributors include Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Olen Butler, Michael Connelly, Megan Abbott, Craig Ferguson, Nicholas Christopher, Jill D. Block, Joe R. Lansdale, Justin Scott, Kris Nelscott, Warren Moore, Jonathan Santlofer, Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, and Lawrence Block himself. Even Gail Levin, Hopper’s biographer and compiler of his catalogue raisonée, appears with her own first work of fiction, providing a true account of art theft on a grand scale and told in the voice of the country preacher who perpetrated the crime.

In a beautifully produced anthology as befits such a collection of acclaimed authors, each story is illustrated with a quality full-color reproduction of the painting that inspired it. Illustrated with 17 full color plates, one for each chapter
Jon, Avondale

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In his brilliant follow-up to In Sunlight or In Shadow, Lawrence Block has gathered together the best talent from popular fiction to produce an anthology as inventive as it is alluring, including Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, David Morrell, and Jeffery Deaver.
Even before Lawrence Block could rest on his laurels from In Sunlight or In Shadow, a question arose. What would he do for an encore?

Any number of artists have produced evocative work, paintings that could trigger a literary response. But none came to mind who could equal Hopper in turning out canvas after canvas. If no single artist could take Hopper’s place, how about a full palette of them? Suppose each author was invited to select a painting from the whole panoply of visual art―From the cave drawings at Lascaux to a contemporary abstract canvas on which the paint has barely dried.

And what a dazzling response! Joyce Carol Oates picked Le Beaux Jours by Balthus. Warren Moore chose Salvador Dali’s The Pharmacist of Ampurdam Seeking Absolutely Nothing. Michael Connelly, who sent Harry Bosch to Chicago for a close look at Nighthawks, has a go at The Garden of Earthly Delights by Harry’s namesake Hieronymous Bosch. S. J. Rozan finds a story in Hokusai’s The Great Wave, while Jeffery Deaver’s "A Significant Find” draws its inspiration from―yes―those prehistoric cave drawings at Lascaux. And Kristine Kathryn Rusch moves from painting to sculpture and selects Rodin.

In artists ranging from Art Frahm and Norman Rockwell to René Magritte and Clifford Still, the impressive concept goes on to include Thomas Pluck, Sarah Weinman, David Morrell, Craig Ferguson, Joe R. Lansdale, Jill D. Block, Justin Scott, Jonathan Santlofer, Gail Levin, Nicholas Christopher, and Lee Child, with each story accompanied in color by the work of art that inspired it. Illustrated with 17 color plates
Jon, Avondale

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Night Shift by Stephen King
Night Shift—Stephen King’s first collection of stories—is an early showcase of the depths that King’s wicked imagination could plumb.  In these 20 tales, we see mutated rats gone bad (“Graveyard Shift”); a cataclysmic virus that threatens humanity (“Night Surf,” the basis for The Stand); a smoker who will try anything to stop (“Quitters, Inc.”); a reclusive alcoholic who begins a gruesome transformation (“Gray Matter”); and many more.  This is Stephen King at his horrifying best.
Jon, Avondale

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

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This book contains more than one thousand separate rhymes from the earliest surviving publications to the present day making it the most complete collection ever assembled. The rhymes are usually given in their earlisest published form.

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The life of American writer Edgar Allan Poe was characterized by a dramatic series of successes and failures, breakdowns and recoveries, personal gains and hopes dashed through, despite which he created some of the finest literature the world has ever known. Over time his works have influenced such major creative forces as the French poets Charles Baudelaire and Andre Gide, filmmaker D.W. Griffith and modern literary legend Allen Ginsberg. Best known for his poems and short fiction, Poe perfected the psychological thriller, invented the detective story, and rarely missed transporting the reader to his own supernatural realm. He has also been hailed posthumously as one of the finest literary critics of the nineteenth century. In Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems fans may indulge in all of Poe's most imaginative short-stories, including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in Rue Morgue, The Tell-Tale Heart, Ligeia and Ms. In a Bottle. His complete early and miscellaneous poetic masterpieces are here also, including The Raven, Ulalume, Annabel Lee, Tamerlane, as well as select reviews and narratives.

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There are collections for mysteries, horror, science fiction, Pushcart Prizes, plays...almost anything you can imagine!

Looking for a great display idea?  Check out this BookRiot list of top 100 contemporary short story collections!

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Rage by Stephen King
Originally published in the 70s before being collected in The Bachman Books, Rage was about a school shooting and received some scandal for allegedly starting the trend.  King eventually let it slide out of print.  There are no copies in the system, but you can find copies for sale out on the internet, some very affordable if you don't care to shell out for a hardcover!


100 MUST-READ CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
https://bookriot.com/2018/03/12/contemporary-short-story-collections/
LIBERTY HARDY 03-12-18
Of all of the 100 must-read lists I have done so far, this was probably the easiest, because there are so many amazing contemporary short story collections. Story collections are such a gift: a whole bunch of different stories in one convenient place! What fun! The following list is made up of the first 100 collections that popped into my head. I have read and loved each of them. (And I probably have enough titles to do a sequel—stay tuned!) And by “contemporary” I mean “published this century.” (Which still gave me eighteen amazing years to choose from!) I’ve included a brief description from the publisher with each title.
THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
“Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them…Now, in her most intimate and seamlessly crafted work to date, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.”
WAR BY CANDLELIGHT: STORIES BY DANIEL ALARCÓN
“Something is happening. Wars, both national and internal, are being waged in jungles, across borders, in the streets of Lima, in the intimacy of New York apartments. War by Candlelight is an exquisite collection of stories that carry the reader from Third World urban centers to the fault lines that divide nations and people—a devastating portrait of a world in flux—and Daniel Alarcón is an extraordinary new voice in literary fiction, one you will not soon forget.”
THE WATER MUSEUM: STORIES BY LUIS ALBERTO URREA
“From one of America’s preeminent literary voices comes a new story collection that proves once again why the writing of Luis Alberto Urrea has been called ‘wickedly good’ (Kansas City Star), ‘cinematic and charged’ (Cleveland Plain Dealer), and ‘studded with delights’ (Chicago Tribune). Examining the borders between one nation and another, between one person and another, Urrea reveals his mastery of the short form. This collection includes the Edgar-award winning ‘Amapola’ and his now-classic ‘Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses,’ which had the honor of being chosen for NPR’s ‘Selected Shorts’ not once but twice.”
IN THE COUNTRY: STORIES BY MIA ALVAR
“In these nine globe-trotting tales, Mia Alvar gives voice to the women and men of the Philippines and its diaspora. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s stories explore the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined. In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home—and marks the arrival of a formidable new voice in literature.”
“A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home…Evocative, playful, subversive, and incredibly human, What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky heralds the arrival of a prodigious talent with a remarkable career ahead of her.”
“Nathan Ballingrud’s Shirley Jackson Award–winning debut collection is a shattering and luminous experience not to be missed by those who love to explore the darker parts of the human psyche. Monsters, real and imagined, external and internal, are the subject. They are us and we are them and Ballingrud’s intense focus makes these stories incredibly intense and irresistible.”
YOUNG SKINS: STORIES BY COLIN BARRETT
“Enter the small, rural town of Glanbeigh, a place whose fate took a downturn with the Celtic Tiger, a desolate spot where buffoonery and tension simmer and erupt, and booze-sodden boredom fills the corners of every pub and nightclub. Here, and in the towns beyond, the young live hard and wear the scars…In each story, a local voice delineates the grittiness of post boom Irish society. These are unforgettable characters rendered through silence, humor, and violence. Told in Barrett’s vibrant, distinctive prose, Young Skins is an accomplished and irreverent debut from a singular new voice in contemporary fiction.”
“These stories, filled with a grand sense of life’s absurdity, form a remarkably sure-footed collection that reads like a modern-day Dubliners. The winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a 2007 book of the year in The Irish Times, the Sunday Tribune, and Metro, There Are Little Kingdoms marks the stunning entrance of a writer who burst onto the literary scene fully formed.”
“The literary, historic, and fantastic collide in these wise and exquisitely unsettling stories. From bewildering assemblies in school auditoriums to the murky waters of a Depression-era health resort, Beams’s landscapes are tinged with otherworldliness, and her characters’ desires stretch the limits of reality…As they capture the strangeness of being human, the stories in We Show What We Have Learned reveal Clare Beams’s rare and capacious imagination—and yet they are grounded in emotional complexity, illuminating the ways we attempt to transform ourselves, our surroundings, and each other.”
WELCOME THIEVES: STORIES BY SEAN BEAUDOIN
“Black humor mixed with pathos is the hallmark of the twelve stories in this adult debut collection from a master writer of comic and inventive YA novels…Beaudoin’s stories are edgy and profane, bittersweet and angry, bemused and sardonic. Yet they’re always tinged with heart. Beaudoin’s novels have been praised for their playfulness and complexity, for the originality and beauty of their language.”
“The characters in The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, Benz’s wildly imaginative debut, are as varied as any in recent literature, but they share a thirst for adventure which sends them rushing full-tilt toward the moral crossroads, becoming victims and perpetrators along the way. Riveting, visceral, and heartbreaking, Benz’s stories of identity, abandonment, and fierce love come together in a daring, arresting vision.”
BIRDS OF A LESSER PARADISE: STORIES BY MEGAN MAYHEW BERGMAN
“Exploring the way our choices and relationships are shaped by the menace and beauty of the natural world, Megan Mayhew Bergman’s powerful and heartwarming collection captures the surprising moments when the pull of our biology becomes evident, when love or fear collides with good sense, or when our attachment to an animal or wild place can’t be denied.”
“A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With the grit of Raymond Carver, the humor of Grace Paley, and a blend of wit and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the Laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians. Readers will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they’d ever overlooked her in the first place.”
THINGS THAT FALL FROM THE SKY BY KEVIN BROCKMEIER
“Weaving together loss and anxiety with fantastic elements and literary sleight-of-hand, Kevin Brockmeier’s richly imagined Things That Fall from the Sky views the nagging realities of the world through a hopeful lens…Achingly beautiful and deceptively simple, Things That Fall from the Sky defies gravity as one of the most original story collections seen in recent years.”
MOTHERS, TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS: STORIES BY BONNIE JO CAMPBELL
“Named by the Guardian as one of our top ten writers of rural noir, Bonnie Jo Campbell is a keen observer of life and trouble in rural America, and her working-class protagonists can be at once vulnerable, wise, cruel, and funny. The strong but flawed women of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters must negotiate a sexually charged atmosphere as they love, honor, and betray one another against the backdrop of all the men in their world. Such richly fraught mother-daughter relationships can be lifelines, anchors, or they can sink a woman like a stone.”
HONEYMOON AND OTHER STORIES BY KEVIN CANTY
“Honeymoon is a book about love, about lovers and would-be lovers exploring unlikely alliances, all of them toeing a certain eventful edge, a decision between rational restraint and something altogether different…Revealing the hidden longings and quirky needs of both men and women with a tough sensitivity and deep, sometimes biting humor, Honeymoon presents a masterful writer purely at home in his form, yet continuing to push himself and his stories to their limits with enthusiasm and daring.”
“Surrealist writer and painter Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) was a master of the macabre, of gorgeous tableaus, biting satire, roguish comedy, and brilliant, effortless flights of the imagination. Nowhere are these qualities more ingeniously brought together than in the works of short fiction she wrote throughout her life.”
AMONG THE MISSING BY DAN CHAON
“In this haunting, bracing new collection, Dan Chaon shares stories of men, women, and children who live far outside the American Dream, while wondering which decision, which path, or which accident brought them to this place. Chaon mines the psychological landscape of his characters to dazzling effect. Each story radiates with sharp humor, mystery, wonder, and startling compassion. Among the Missing lingers in the mind through its subtle grace and power of language.”
“What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven’s other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang.”
“Faerie is never as far away as you think. Sometimes you find you have crossed an invisible line and must cope, as best you can, with petulant princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who pass their time embroidering terrible fates or with endless paths in deep, dark woods and houses that never appear the same way twice. The heroines and heroes bedeviled by such problems in these fairy tales include a conceited Regency clergyman, an eighteenth-century Jewish doctor and Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as two characters from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Strange himself and the Raven King.”
“Now available in Ecco’s Art of the Story series: a never-before-published collection of stories from a brilliant yet little known African American artist and filmmaker—a contemporary of revered writers including Toni Cade Bambara, Laurie Colwin, Ann Beattie, Amy Hempel, and Grace Paley—whose prescient work has recently resurfaced to wide acclaim. Humorous, poignant, perceptive, and full of grace, Kathleen Collins’s stories masterfully blend the quotidian and the profound in a personal, intimate way, exploring deep, far-reaching issues—race, gender, family, and sexuality—that shape the ordinary moments in our lives.”
“Justin Cronin’s poignant debut traces the lives of Mary Olson and O’Neil Burke, two vulnerable young teachers who rediscover in each other a world alive with promise and hope. From the formative experiences of their early adulthood to marriage, parenthood, and beyond, this novel in stories illuminates the moments of grace that enable Mary and O’Neil to make peace with the deep emotional legacies that haunt them: the sudden, mysterious death of O’Neil’s parents, Mary’s long-ago decision to end a pregnancy, O’Neil’s sister’s battle with illness and a troubled marriage. Alive with magical nuance and unexpected encounters, Mary and O’Neil celebrates the uncommon in common lives, and the redemptive power of love.”
“In this stunning debut, Patrick Dacey draws us into the secret lives of recognizable strangers. Here, in small-town Massachusetts, after more than a decade of boom and bust, everyone is struggling to find their own version of the American dream: a lonely woman attacks a memorial to a neighbor’s veteran son, a dissatisfied housewife goes overboard with cosmetic surgery on national television, a young father walks away from one of the few jobs left in town, a soldier writes home to a mother who is becoming increasingly unhinged.”
THE REDEMPTION OF GALEN PIKE BY CARYS DAVIES
“From remote Australian settlements to the snows of Siberia, from Colorado to Cumbria, restless teenagers, middle-aged civil servants, and Quaker spinsters traverse expanses of solitude to reveal the secrets of the human heart. Written with raw and rigorous prose, charged throughout by a prickly wit, the stories in The Redemption of Galen Pike remind us how little we know of the lives of others.”
THE SHELL COLLECTOR: STORIES BY ANTHONY DOERR
“The exquisitely crafted stories in Anthony Doerr’s debut collection take readers from the African Coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emotional landscape. Doerr explores the human condition in all its varieties—metamorphosis, grief, fractured relationships, and slowly mending hearts—conjuring nature in both its beautiful abundance and crushing power. Some of the characters in these stories contend with hardships; some discover unique gifts; all are united by their ultimate deference to the ravishing universe outside themselves.”
GHOST SUMMER: STORIES BY TANANARIVE DUE
“Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due’s work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness.”
THE WILDS BY JULIA ELLIOTT
“In her genre-bending stories, Elliott blends Southern gothic strangeness with dystopian absurdities, sci-fi speculations with fairy-tale transformations. Teetering between the ridiculous and the sublime, Elliott’s language-driven fiction uses outlandish tropes to capture poignant moments in her humble characters’ lives. Without abandoning the tenets of classic storytelling, Elliott revels in lush lyricism, dark humor, and experimental play.”
“These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place Englander at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction.”
A COLLAPSE OF HORSES BY BRIAN EVENSON
“A stuffed bear’s heart beats with the rhythm of a dead baby, Reno keeps receding to the east no matter how far you drive, and in a mine on another planet, the dust won’t stop seeping in. In these stories, Evenson unsettles us with the everyday and the extraordinary—the terror of living with the knowledge of all we cannot know.”
HALF AN INCH OF WATER: STORIES BY PERCIVAL EVERETT
“For the plainspoken men and women of these stories—fathers and daughters, sheriffs and veterinarians—small events trigger sudden shifts in which the ordinary becomes unfamiliar…Half an Inch of Water tears through the fabric of the everyday to examine what lies beneath the surface of these lives. In the hands of master storyteller Everett, the act of questioning leads to vistas more strange and unsettling than could ever have been expected.”
“Emily Dickinson takes a carriage ride with Death. A couple are invited over to a neighbor’s daughter’s exorcism. A country witch with a sea-captain’s head in a glass globe intercedes on behalf of abused and abandoned children. In July of 1915, in Hardin County, Ohio, a boy sees ghosts. Explore contemporary natural history in a baker’s dozen of exhilarating visions.”
“The well-meaning protagonists of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara are caught—to both disastrous and hilarious effect—in the maelstrom of political and social upheaval surrounding them. Ben Fountain’s prize-winning debut speaks to the intimate connection between the foreign, the familiar, and the inescapably human.”
AYITI BY ROXANE GAY*
“From New York Times–bestselling powerhouse Roxane Gay, Ayiti is a powerful collection exploring the Haitian diaspora experience. Originally published by a small press, this Grove Press paperback will make Gay’s debut widely available for the first time, including several new stories.”
*Originally published in 2011, being reissued by Grove Press on June 12
DEAD GIRLS AND OTHER STORIES BY EMILY GEMINDER
“With lyric artistry and emotional force, Emily Geminder’s debut collection charts a vivid constellation of characters fleeing their own stories. A teenage runaway and her mute brother seek salvation in houses, buses, the backseats of cars. Preteen girls dial up the ghosts of fat girls. A crew of bomber pilots addresses the ash of villagers below. And from India to New York to Phnom Penh, dead girls both real and fantastic appear again and again: as obsession, as threat, as national myth and collective nightmare.”
GUTSHOT: STORIES BY AMELIA GRAY
“A woman creeps through the ductwork of a quiet home. A medical procedure reveals an object of worship. A carnivorous reptile divides and cauterizes a town. Amelia Gray’s curio cabinet expands in Gutshot, where isolation and coupling are pushed to their dark and outrageous edges. A master of the macabre, Gray’s work is not for the faint of heart or gut: lick at your own risk.”
“Throughout the collection, Groff displays particular and vivid preoccupations. Crime is a motif—sex crimes, a possible murder, crimes of the heart. Love troubles recur; they’re in every story—love in alcoholism, in adultery, in a flood, even in the great flu epidemic of 1918. Some of the love has depths, which are understood too late; some of the love is shallow, and also understood too late. And mastery is a theme—Groff’s women swim and baton twirl, become poets, or try and try again to achieve the inner strength to exercise personal freedom.”
YOU SHOULD PITY US INSTEAD BY AMY GUSTINE
“You Should Pity Us Instead explores some of our toughest dilemmas: the cost of Middle East strife at its most intimate level, the likelihood of God considered in day-to-day terms, the moral stakes of family obligations, and the inescapable fact of mortality. Amy Gustine exhibits an extraordinary generosity toward her characters, instilling them with a thriving, vivid presence.”
MADAME ZERO: 9 STORIES BY SARAH HALL
“From one of the most accomplished British writers working today, the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of The Wolf Border, comes a unique and arresting collection of short fiction that is both disturbing and dazzling…In this collection of nine works of short fiction, she uses her piercing insight to plumb the depth of the female experience and the human soul.”
“In these unforgettable stories, the acclaimed author of Imagine Me Gone explores lives that appear shuttered by loss and discovers entire worlds hidden inside them. The impact is at once harrowing and thrilling…Told with Chekhovian restraint and compassion, and conveying both the sorrow of life and the courage with which people rise to meet it, You Are Not a Stranger Here is a triumph of storytelling.”
SINGLE, CAREFREE, MELLOW BY KATHERINE HEINY
“For the commitment-averse women in the eleven sublime stories of Single, Carefree, Mellow, falling in love is never easy and always inconvenient…The women grapple with love amidst everything from unwelcome houseguests to disastrous birthday parties as Katherine Heiny spins a debut that is superbly accomplished, endlessly entertaining, and laugh-out-loud funny.”
“Assimilation is founded on surrender and being broken; this collection of short stories features people who have assimilated, but are actively trying to reclaim their lives…Poignant by way of funny, and philosophical by way of grotesque, Hernandez’s stories are prayers for self-sovereignty.”
20TH CENTURY GHOSTS BY JOE HILL
“Imogene is young, beautiful…and dead, waiting in the Rosebud Theater one afternoon in 1945…Francis was human once, but now he’s an eight-foot-tall locust, and everyone in Calliphora will tremble when they hear him sing…John is locked in a basement stained with the blood of half a dozen murdered children, and an antique telephone, long since disconnected, rings at night with calls from the dead…Nolan knows but can never tell what really happened in the summer of ’77, when his idiot savant younger brother built a vast cardboard fort with secret doors leading into other worlds…The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past…”
“Fearless, candid, and incredibly funny, Lauren Holmes is a newcomer who writes like a master. She tackles eros and intimacy with a deceptively light touch, a keen awareness of how their nervous systems tangle and sometimes short-circuit, and a genius for revealing our most vulnerable, spirited selves.”
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS BY NALO HOPKINSON
“In this long-awaited collection, Hopkinson continues to expand the boundaries of culture and imagination. Whether she is retelling The Tempest as a new Caribbean myth, filling a shopping mall with unfulfilled ghosts, or herding chickens that occasionally breathe fire, Hopkinson continues to create bold fiction that transcends boundaries and borders.”
“In this powerful debut collection, Vanessa Hua gives voice to immigrant families navigating a new America. Tied to their ancestral and adopted homelands in ways unimaginable in generations past, these memorable characters straddle both worlds but belong to none. These stories shine a light on immigrant families navigating a new America, straddling cultures and continents, veering between dream and disappointment.”
DADDY’S BY LINDSAY HUNTER
“Lindsay Hunter tells the stories no one else will in ways no one else can. In this down and dirty debut she draws vivid portraits of bad people in worse places…A rising star of the new fast fiction, Hunter bares all before you can blink in her bold, beautiful stories. In this collection of slim southern gothics, she offers an exploration not of the human heart but of the spine; mixing sex, violence and love into a harrowing, head-spinning read.”
KNOCKOUT: STORIES BY JOHN JODZIO
“The work of John Jodzio has already made waves across the literary community. Some readers noticed his nimble blending of humor with painful truths reminded them of George Saunders. His creativity and fresh voice reminded others of Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. But with his new collection, Jodzio creates a class of his own.”
FORTUNE SMILES: STORIES BY ADAM JOHNSON
“Throughout these six stories, Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal, giving voice to the perspectives we don’t often hear.”
“Returning to the city that inspired his first prizewinning book, Lost in the City, Jones has filled this new collection with people who call Washington, D.C., home. Yet it is not the city’s power brokers that most concern him but rather its ordinary citizens. All Aunt Hagar’s Children turns an unflinching eye to the men, women, and children caught between the old ways of the South and the temptations that await them further north, people who in Jones’s masterful hands, emerge as fully human and morally complex, whether they are country folk used to getting up with the chickens or people with centuries of education behind them.”
AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF BY STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES
“The fifteen stories in After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones explore the horrors and fears of the supernatural and the everyday. Included are two original stories, several rarities and out of print narratives, as well as a few ‘best of the year’ inclusions.”
UNACCUSTOMED EARTH BY JHUMPA LAHIRI
“These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.”
VIRGIN AND OTHER STORIES BY APRIL AYERS LAWSON
“Nodding to the Southern Gothic but channeling an energy all its own, Virgin and Other Stories is a mesmerizing debut from an uncannily gifted young writer. With self-assurance and sensuality, April Ayers Lawson unravels the intertwining imperatives of intimacy—sex and love, violation and trust, spirituality and desire—eyeing, unblinkingly, what happens when we succumb to temptation.”
BACK TALK: STORIES BY DANIELLE LAZARIN
“Through stories that are at once empathetic and unexpected, these women and girls defiantly push the boundaries between selfishness and self-possession. With a fresh voice and bold honesty, Back Talk examines how narrowly our culture allows women to express their desires.”
“The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, five Hugo Awards and five Nebula Awards, the renowned writer Ursula K. Le Guin has, in each story and novel, created a provocative, ever-evolving universe filled with diverse worlds and rich characters reminiscent of our earthly selves. Now, in The Birthday of the World, this gifted artist returns to these worlds in eight brilliant short works, including a never-before-published novella, each of which probes the essence of humanity.”
BOBCAT AND OTHER STORIES BY REBECCA LEE
“Rebecca Lee, one of our most gifted and original short story writers, guides readers into a range of landscapes, both foreign and domestic, crafting stories as rich as novels…Showing people at their most vulnerable, Lee creates characters so wonderfully flawed, so driven by their desire, so compelled to make sense of their human condition, that it’s impossible not to feel for them when their fragile belief in romantic love, domestic bliss, or academic seclusion fails to provide them with the sort of force field they’d expected.”
“For readers of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Redeployment, a searing debut exploring the lives of veterans returning to their homes in the South. Lacerating and lyrical, We Come to Our Senses centers on men and women affected by combat directly and tangentially, and the peculiar legacies of war.”
GET IN TROUBLE: STORIES BY KELLY LINK
“Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids…These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty—and the hidden strengths—of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.”
THE COMPLETE STORIES BY CLARICE LISPECTOR,‎ BENJAMIN MOSER (EDITOR),‎ KATRINA DODSON (TRANSLATOR)
“Now, for the first time in English, are all the stories that made her a Brazilian legend: from teenagers coming into awareness of their sexual and artistic powers to humdrum housewives whose lives are shattered by unexpected epiphanies to old people who don’t know what to do with themselves. Clarice’s stories take us through their lives—and ours. From one of the greatest modern writers, these stories, gathered from the nine collections published during her lifetime, follow an unbroken time line of success as a writer, from her adolescence to her death bed.”
“With his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, taking the literary world by storm, Ken Liu now shares his finest short fiction in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories…Insightful and stunning stories that plumb the struggle against history and betrayal of relationships in pivotal moments, this collection showcases one of our greatest and original voices.”
“Set in Japan, Luce’s playful, tender stories—reminiscent of Haruki Murakami and Aimee Bender—tip into the fantastical, plumb the power of memory, and measure the human capacity to love. The award-winning narratives in this mesmerizing debut trace the lives of ex-pats, artists, and outsiders as they seek to find their place in the world.”
HALF WILD: STORIES BY ROBIN MACARTHUR
“Spanning nearly forty years, the stories in Robin MacArthur’s formidable debut give voice to the dreams, hungers, and fears of a diverse cast of Vermonters—adolescent girls, aging hippies, hardscrabble farmers, disconnected women, and solitary men. Straddling the border between civilization and the wild, they all struggle to make sense of their loneliness and longings in the stark and often isolating enclaves they call home—golden fields and white-veiled woods, dilapidated farmhouses and makeshift trailers, icy rivers and still lakes rouse the imagination, tether the heart, and inhabit the soul.”
HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES: STORIES BY CARMEN MARIA MACHADO
“In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.”
MUSIC FOR WARTIME: STORIES BY REBECCA MAKKAI
“Rebecca Makkai’s first two novels, The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, have established her as one of the freshest and most imaginative voices in fiction. Now, the award-winning writer, whose stories have appeared in four consecutive editions of The Best American Short Stories, returns with a highly anticipated collection bearing her signature mix of intelligence, wit, and heart.”
THUNDERSTRUCK & OTHER STORIES BY ELIZABETH MCCRACKEN
“In Elizabeth McCracken’s universe, heartache is always interwoven with strange, charmed moments of joy—an unexpected conversation with small children, the gift of a parrot with a bad French accent—that remind us of the wonder and mystery of being alive. Thunderstruck & Other Stories shows this inimitable writer working at the full height of her powers.”
HEARTBREAKER: STORIES BY MARYSE MEIJER
“In her debut story collection Heartbreaker, Maryse Meijer peels back the crust of normalcy and convention, unmasking the fury and violence we are willing to inflict in the name of love and loneliness. Her characters are a strange ensemble—a feral child, a girl raised from the dead, a possible pedophile—who share in vulnerability and heartache, but maintain an unremitting will to survive. Meijer deals in desire and sex, femininity and masculinity, family and girlhood, crafting a landscape of appetites threatening to self-destruct. In beautifully restrained and exacting prose, she sets the marginalized free to roam her pages and burn our assumptions to the ground.”
“Eleven unforgettable new stories demonstrate the emotional power and the clean, assured style that have earned Meloy praise from critics and devotion from readers. Propelled by a terrific instinct for storytelling, and concerned with the convolutions of modern love and the importance of place, this collection is about the battlefields—and fields of victory—that exist in seemingly harmless spaces, in kitchens and living rooms and cars. Set mostly in the American West, the stories feature small-town lawyers, ranchers, doctors, parents, and children, and explore the moral quandaries of love, family, and friendship.”
“The fiction of multiple award–winning author China Miéville is powered by intelligence and imagination. Like George Saunders, Karen Russell, and David Mitchell, he pulls from a variety of genres with equal facility, employing the fantastic not to escape from reality but instead to interrogate it in provocative, unexpected ways.”
I WAS A REVOLUTIONARY: STORIES BY ANDREW MALAN MILWARD
“Grounded in place, spanning the Civil War to the present day, the stories in I Was a Revolutionary capture the roil of history through the eyes of an unforgettable cast of characters: the visionaries and dreamers, radical farmers and socialist journalists, quack doctors and protestors who haunt the past and present landscape of the state of Kansas.”
RUNAWAY BY ALICE MUNRO
“In Munro’s hands, the people she writes about—women of all ages and circumstances, and their friends, lovers, parents, and children—become as vivid as our own neighbors. It is her miraculous gift to make these stories as real and unforgettable as our own.”
AFTER THE QUAKE: STORIES BY HARUKI MURAKAMI,‎ JAY RUBIN  (TRANSLATOR)
“The six stories in Haruki Murakami’s mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.”
“From the secluded villages in the south of France, to the cattle crawl in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in South Africa, to the hard-knock adolescent streets of Brooklyn, Neugeboren examines the great mysteries and complexities that unsettle and comprise human relationships. In works that are as memorable, engrossing, and exciting as they are gorgeously crafted, Neugeboren delivers on his reputation as one of our pre-eminent American writers.”
THE REFUGEES BY VIET THANH NGUYEN
“With the same incisiveness as in The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to the hopes and expectations of people making life-changing decisions to leave one country for another, and the rifts in identity, loyalties, romantic relationships, and family that accompany relocation. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of migration.”
“Throughout these breathtakingly creative seventeen stories spread across time, space, and differing planes of reality, we encounter a host of women and girls in a wide range of unusual jobs…Wickedly funny yet ringing with deep truths about gender, authority and the ways we inhabit and restrict the female body, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls is a brilliant commentary on the kaleidoscope of human behavior and a remarkably nuanced satire for our times.”
*Originally published in 2011, being reissued by Ecco on July 3
REVENGE: ELEVEN DARK TALES BY YOKO OGAWA,‎ STEPHEN SNYDER (TRANSLATOR)
“Sinister forces collide—and unite a host of desperate characters—in this eerie cycle of interwoven tales from Yoko Ogawa, the critically acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor…Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge is a master class in the macabre that will haunt you to the last page.”
SALSA NOCTURNA BY DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER
“A 300 year-old story collector enlists the help of the computer hacker next door to save her dying sister. A half-resurrected cleanup man for Death’s sprawling bureaucracy faces a phantom pachyderm, doll-collecting sorceresses and his own ghoulish bosses. Gordo, the old Cubano that watches over the graveyards and sleeping children of Brooklyn, stirs and lights another Malaguena. Down the midnight streets of New York, a whole invisible universe churns to life in Daniel Jose Older’s debut collection of ghost noir.”
“In Lori Ostlund’s award-winning debut collection, people seeking escape from situations at home venture out into a world that they find is just as complicated and troubled as the one they left behind. In prose highlighted by both satire and poignant observation, The Bigness of the World contains characters that represent a different sort of everyman—men and women who poke fun at ideological rigidity while holding fast to good grammar and manners, people seeking connections in a world that seems increasingly foreign.”
WHEN THE EMPEROR WAS DIVINE BY JULIE OTSUKA
“Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination ‘both physical and emotional’ of a generation of Japanese Americans…Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times.”
“With penetrating insight that belies her youth—she was only nineteen years old when Seventeen magazine printed her first published story—ZZ Packer helps us see the world with a clearer vision. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere is a striking performance—fresh, versatile, and captivating. It introduces us to an arresting and unforgettable new voice.”
“In this sumptuous offering, one of our premier storytellers provides a feast for fiction aficionados. Spanning four decades and three prize-winning collections, these twenty-one vintage selected stories and thirteen scintillating new ones take us around the world, from Jerusalem to Central America, from tsarist Russia to London during the Blitz, from central Europe to Manhattan, and from the Maine coast to Godolphin, Massachusetts, a fictional suburb of Boston. These charged locales, and the lives of the endlessly varied characters within them, are evoked with a tenderness and incisiveness found in only our most observant seers.”
I WANT TO SHOW YOU MORE BY JAMIE QUATRO
“Sharp-edged and fearless, mixing white-hot yearning with daring humor, Quatro’s stories upend and shake out our views on infidelity, faith, and family. Set around Lookout Mountain on the border of Georgia and Tennessee, Quatro’s hypnotically revealing stories range from the traditional to the fabulist as they expose lives torn between spirituality and sexuality in the New American South. These fifteen linked tales confront readers with fractured marriages, mercurial temptations, and dark theological complexities, and establish a sultry and enticingly cool new voice in American fiction.”
“Open this book to any page and find yourself enspelled by these lush, alchemical stories. Faced with the uncanny and the impossible, Rickert’s protagonists are as painfully, shockingly, complexly human as the readers who will encounter them. Mothers, daughters, witches, artists, strangers, winged babies, and others grapple with deception, loss, and moments of extraordinary joy.”
THE REPUBLIC OF EAST LA: STORIES BY LUIS J. RODRIGUEZ
“From the award-winning author of Always Running comes a brilliant collection of short stories about life in East Los Angeles. In these stories, Luis J. Rodriguez gives eloquent voice to the neighborhood where he spent many years as a resident, a father, an organizer, and, finally, a writer: a neighborhood that offers more to the world than its appearance allows.”
THE GIRL OF THE LAKE: STORIES BY BILL ROORBACH
“These moving and funny stories are as rich in scope, emotional, and memorable as Bill Roorbach’s novels. He has been called “a kinder, gentler John Irving…a humane and entertaining storyteller with a smooth, graceful style” (the Washington Post), and his work has been described as “hilarious and heartbreaking, wild and wise” (Parade magazine), all of which is evident in spades (and also hearts, clubs, and diamonds) in every story in this arresting new collection.”
TELLING THE MAP: STORIES BY CHRISTOPHER ROWE
“There are ten stories here including one readers have waited ten long years for: in new novella The Border State Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story The Voluntary State. Competitive cyclists twins Michael and Maggie have trained all their lives to race internationally. One thing holds them back: their mother who years before crossed the border…into Tennessee.”
“Like many of us, the characters in this collection are in pursuit of the sublime, and find themselves looking not just to divinity but to science, nature, psychology, and industry, forgetting that their new, logical deities are no more trustworthy than the tempestuous gods of the past. Along the way, they walk the knife-edge between wonder and terror, salvation and destruction. All the Names They Used for God is an entrancing work of speculative fiction that heralds Anjali Sachdeva as an invigorating, incomparable new voice.”
TENTH OF DECEMBER: STORIES BY GEORGE SAUNDERS
“Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human. Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should ‘prepare us for tenderness.'”
“Its interconnected stories explore the commonly shared but rarely spoken of experiences that build girls into women and women into wives and mothers. In revealing all their vulnerabilities and twisting our preconceived notions of who they are, Elissa Schappell alters how we think about the nature of female identity and how it evolves.”
“Singh’s stories have been performed on BBC radio, been finalists for the British SF Association award, selected for the Tiptree award honor list, and oft reprinted in Best of the Year anthologies. Her dives deep into the vast strangeness of the universe without and within and with her unblinking clear vision she explores the ways we move through space and time: together, yet always apart.”
“Long intrigued by love and loneliness, Sneed leads readers through emotional landscapes both familiar and uncharted. These probing stories are explorations of the compassionate and passionate impulses that are inherent in—and often the source of—both abiding joy and serious distress in every human life.”
“Sparks’s stories—populated with sculptors, librarians, astronauts, and warriors—form a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Mythical, bizarre, and deeply moving, The Unfinished World and Other Stories heralds the arrival of a major writer and illuminates the search for a brief encounter with the extraordinary.”
MONSTRESS: STORIES BY LYSLEY TENORIO
“A luminous collection of heartbreaking, vivid, startling, and gloriously unique stories set amongst the Filipino-American communities of California and the Philippines, Monstress heralds the arrival of a breathtaking new talent on the literary scene: Lysley Tenorio. Already the worthy recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writer’s Award, and a Stegner Fellowship, Tenorio brilliantly explores the need to find connections, the melancholy of isolation, and the sometimes suffocating ties of family in tales that range from a California army base to a steamy moviehouse in Manilla, to the dangerous false glitter of Hollywood.”
SWIMMER AMONG THE STARS: STORIES BY KANISHK THAROOR
“With exuberant originality and startling vision, Tharoor cuts against the grain of literary convention, drawing equally from ancient history and current events. His world-spanning stories speak to contemporary challenges of environmental collapse and cultural appropriation, but also to the workings of legend and their timeless human truths. Whether refashioning the romances of Alexander the Great or confronting the plight of today’s refugees, Tharoor writes with distinctive insight and remarkable assurance. Swimmer Among the Stars announces the arrival of a vital, enchanting talent.”
NIGHT AT THE FIESTAS: STORIES BY KIRSTIN VALDEZ QUADE
“With intensity and emotional precision, Kirstin Valdez Quade’s unforgettable stories plunge us into the fierce, troubled hearts of characters defined by the desire to escape the past or else to plumb its depths…Always hopeful, these stories chart the passions and obligations of family life, exploring themes of race, class, and coming-of-age, as Quade’s characters protect, betray, wound, undermine, bolster, define, and, ultimately, save each other.”
“Containing work reprinted in Best Non-Required Reading 2008, Best New American Voices 2010, and The Pushcart Prizes 2010, the stories in Laura van den Berg’s rich and inventive debut illuminate the intersection of the mythic and the mundane…Rendered with precision and longing, the women who narrate these starkly beautiful stories are consumed with searching—for absolution, for solace, for the flash of extraordinary in the ordinary that will forever alter their lives.”
BATTLEBORN: STORIES BY CLAIRE VAYE WATKINS
“In each of these ten unforgettable stories, Claire Vaye Watkins writes her way fearlessly into the mythology of the American West, utterly reimagining it. Her characters orbit around the region’s vast spaces, winning redemption despite—and often because of—the hardship and violence they endure.”
CHILDREN OF THE NEW WORLD: STORIES BY ALEXANDER WEINSTEIN
“Children of the New World grapples with our unease in this modern world and how our ever-growing dependence on new technologies has changed the shape of our society. Alexander Weinstein is a visionary new voice in speculative fiction for all of us who are fascinated by and terrified of what we might find on the horizon.”
HONORED GUEST: STORIES BY JOY WILLIAMS
“With her singular brand of gorgeous dark humor, Joy Williams explores the various ways—comic, tragic, and unnerving—we seek to accommodate diminishment and loss. A masseuse breaks her rich client’s wrist bone, a friend visits at the hospital long after she is welcome, and a woman surrenders her husband to a creepily adoring student. From one of our most acclaimed writers, Honored Guest is a rich examination of our capacity for transformation and salvation.”
“In these stories, the line between the real and the imagined is blurred as Lucy Wood takes us to Cornwall’s ancient coast, building on its rich storytelling history and recasting its myths in thoroughly contemporary ways. Calling forth the fantastic and fantastical, she mines these legends for that bit of magic remaining in all our lives—if only we can let ourselves see it.”
THE MOUNTAIN: STORIES BY PAUL YOON
“Hailed by New York magazine as a ‘quotidian-surreal craft-master’ and a ‘radiant star in the current literary firmament’ by The Dallas Morning News, Yoon realizes his worlds with quiet, insightful, and gorgeous prose. Though each story is distinct from the others, his restrained voice and perceptive observations about violence—to the body, the landscape, and ultimately, the human soul—weaves throughout this collection as a whole, making The Mountain a beautiful, memorable read.”
SOUR HEART: STORIES BY JENNY ZHANG
“Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat—dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck—these seven stories showcase Zhang’s compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor reminiscent of Portnoy’s Complaint. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.”