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Aug 28, 2011

It's our "short" episode, featuring short stories. Listen in to hear about discussing stories with your book group, some of our favorite story collections, and two stories we can't wait for you to read.


Short stories and book groups:


Do you read and discuss short stories as part of your book group? Robin Black, author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, recently published a blog post about how book groups can use short story collections in their discussions. That post inspired this episode about short stories.  My favorite of Robin's suggestions: talk about which of the author's stories could be expanded into a novel, and what that would look like. Karen Russell, who wrote on of my favorite story collections, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, did just that.  The story "Ava Wrestles the Alligator" was expanded to become the novel Swamplandia.


Stories worth discussing:

Strange Pilgrims   How to Breathe underwater  You are not a stranger here   View from the Seventh Layer

In this segment, we talk about some story collections that would be great choices for book groups. One of Michael's favorite collections is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Strange Pilgrims. The stories that he finds most memorable: "Your Trail of Blood in the Snow","I Just Came to Use the Phone," and "Light is Like Water." 
Michael also loves How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer (author of the novel The Invisible Bridge). One story that sticks out for Michael is  "Pilgrims."

Ann's recommendations for book groups: You are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett, which was a finalist for both he Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Haslett's recent novel is Union Atlantic. One of the standout stories is "Notes to my Biographer." Ann's favorite short story ever is "A Fable Ending in the Sound of a Thousand Parakeets," by Kevin Brockmeier, which appears in the collection The View from the Seventh Layer. Another notable story from that collection is "The Lady with the Pet Tribble," an homage to both Chekhov and Star Trek.

Coincidentally, one of Michael's favorite stories, "The Ceiling," appears in a different Brockmeier collection, Things that Fall from the Sky. That book also contains another story that Michael mentions, "A Day in the Life of Half of Rumpelstiltskin."

Two stories we can't wait for you to read:

Raymond Carver Collected Stories  Dan Chaon, Among the Missing

One of the most heralded short stories of the 20th centuries is "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" by Raymond Carver. I was inspired to re-read it because of the forthcoming story collection by Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (due in February 2012). In 2009, the Library of America published Raymond Carver Collected Storieswhich contains "Beginners," the original, unedited version of "What We Talk About when We Talk About Love."  I think it would be interesting to compare the two versions, and to see what influence editor Gordon Lish had on this very important short story.

Michael is currently reading Stay Awake, a new forthcoming collection by Dan Chaon. Instead of including a story that isn't yet published, Michael went back to Chaon's earlier collection and read two stories in Among the Missing: the title story, and "Big Me", a story about identity which was on the O.Henry prize list when it was first published.

And finally....

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