Monday, July 30, 2012

Short Story Love

Often we discuss novels here at Enchanted Inkpot, so I thought we might take some space to talk about short stories we love.

I confess the short stories I like tend to be odd. One of my favorites is “Sweet Pippet” in Margo Lanagan’s Black Juice. It’s a love story, told from the perspective of elephants. I adore the way Lanagan explains almost nothing. We simply have to puzzle out whom the elephants love and why.

Another of my favorite collections is Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters. Like Black Juice, this collection has odd stories, some surreal and some strange. “The Wrong Grave”, about a guy who decides to dig up poems he left in his girlfriend's grave, is funny in a dark, sad way. The collection also includes traditional tales with a twist, like “The Wizards of Perfil”, which features wizards, a tower, and lost children.

Steampunk! – edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant is a wonderful anthology that includes steampunk stories by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, and M.T. Anderson, among others. If you’ve liked novels by these authors, you might enjoy their short stories.

When I'm looking for great fantasy stories, short and long, I frequently visit Endicott Studio's "Mythic Fiction for Young Adults" to see what's listed there. For short story collection recommendations, check out the 4th paragraph. 

Also, some recommendations from other Inkies:

William Alexander recommends Holly Black’s collection, The Poison Eaters. In a review for Magers and Quinn Booksellers (you can read the full review here), he says: “It's like very strong espresso, delicious to sip but powerful enough to keep you up all night wishing you could breathe comfortably with blankets pulled over your head.”

Leah Cypress wants to announce that she has short stories with YA appeal forthcoming and available, in the anthologies Sword and Sorceress 27 and Two and Twenty Dark Tales, as well as her own free collection Changelings and Other Stories. Take a look at her website for more information on these.

Amy Butler Greenfield says: "I don’t often read short stories, but I really enjoyed Willful Impropriety:  13 Tales of Society, Scandal and Romance (ed. Ekaterina Sedia).   Almost all the stories have a strong historical fantasy element; some are painful; many are funny.  Taken together they’re a fascinating and thought-provoking look at social norms and 'improper' behavior, with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure."

Dawn Metcalf recommends the Bordertown short stories, including the latest collection edited by Ellen Kushner and Holly Black. Dawn says, “These were the first stories I read as a teen that blended fantasy and technology on the border where our world and Faeland met along the Mad River; where bookstores came with magic locks, elves jonesed for a cup of coffee, and people rode motorcycles powered by spellboxes that (sometimes) worked. It was magic remade all over again and I loved it!”

Let’s add to this list. What short stories, and short story writers, do you love and why? 


  1. I'll admit I've found a lot of short story collections to be uneven, but there are individual short stories that I love, e.g., "The Night Market" by Holly Black, a classic called "What the Cat Told Me" by Diana Wynne Jones, and another older story called "The Rule of Names" by Ursula LeGuin. As for complete collections, I'm guessing Fantasy Stories ed. by DWJ is out of print, but it's quite good (and includes the story I just mentioned). More recently, a collection of Joan Aiken's funny and magical (MG) Armitage stories has been published as The Serial Garden.

  2. Thanks for this, Kate. I always wonder if collections are the best format for short stories. I don't tend to read collections the way I read novels, straight through. The internet, and possibly ereading downloads, seem a more natural publication fit. Good to hear about The Serial Garden. I also love Ursula LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas."

  3. Laura--Interesting question about how best to publish short stories. I also loved Neil Gaiman's story "The Witch's Headstone" even before he included it in The Graveyard Book. That LeGuin story just kills me! But it makes a great analogy for so many things that happen in history and society.

  4. Oh, I forgot about Pretty Monsters! Such a fantastic collection. Great to have these other recommendations, too.

  5. I've been meaning to check out Podcastle. It sounds great. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I love this topic and I'm so happy to have some new short story recommendations. I really recommend the fantasy short story podcast, Podcastle. Although it mostly posts fantasy for adults, they've had some great YA authors on recently like Holly Black, Garth Nix and Leah Bobet.

  7. I'll have to find "The Hounds of Ulster". I loved The Scorpio Races. Thanks for adding to the list.

  8. Yes, and I find them inspiring. They get me thinking on what makes them unique. I always want to try writing something outside my comfort zone when I read Link or Lanagan.

  9. Yes, tough. You have very little space to convey a great deal. Good luck!

  10. Ooh, thanks for all the recommendations! I've just been trying my hand at short stories, so I'm on the lookout for good examples of short-stories-done-right. They're harder to find than I thought at first!

  11. Oh I love Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link--it's so creepy and delightful. I think
    those are the types of stories I enjoy, too, because they're so odd that they
    really stick with you.

  12. My favorite short story is "The Hounds of Ulster" by Maggie Stiefvater, found in the

    Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love anthology. I love the twist at the end.

    I'm really looking forward to several anthologies that are coming out over the next year: Shards & Ashes, Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy & Prediction, Defy the Dark, and The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories.

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