Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who Reads Short Shorts? Recent Canadian Short Fiction

I tend to have high expectations of short stories. I'm more forgiving of a novel, if the plot drags a bit I will stick with it knowing that there's time for the writer to get things together. Short stories must deliver a lot in a short number of pages. I don't always require an exciting plot - sometimes a moment in time makes a wonderful short story. I do insist on great characters though, and here is where someone like Alice Munro shines. Her characters can grab you with one line in her edgy “Wenlock Edge” in Too Much Happiness her narrator says “I had a mean tongue. But I meant no harm. Or hardly any harm.

Here are some recent Canadian short story collections to consider.

Juliet was a Surprise: stories by Bill Gaston

"Gaston's characteristic keen insight and wit dazzle in this new collection. Readers will see the world through the prism of unfamiliar perspectives: a bank executive whose excellent sex life might in fact be killing her, an amorous tree surgeon better attuned to the values of his 'patients' than to other people, a vacationing schizophrenic, a pizza-delivery boy convinced he's witnessed magic - all struggling with the world as they see it. This versatile collection - at times darkly playful, absurd, or shockingly real - illustrates how we can fail to understand the simplest of truths and how we are trapped by the peculiarities of our own points of view." Discover

How Loveta Got Her Baby: stories by Nicholas Ruddock

"Two young men and a girl go scavenging for fossils—but find something entirely different instead. A girl inherits a baby from the estate of her older sister. An apparently aimless young man turns out to have surprising powers. From Journey Prize-nominee Nicholas Ruddock comes an outstanding new collection of short fiction. How Loveta Got Her Baby is a set of linked stories about growing up unsure of the world and trying to stand up straight, about love from afar and love up close, love imagined, love going right and wrong and sideways, about being young and imperfect." publisher

Sweet Affliction by Anna Leventhal

"Sweet Affliction collects fifteen sharply-observed, darkly funny stories by Journey Prize-nominated writer Anna Leventhal. A memorable range of narrators navigate the complexities and discomforts of modern life, with the body and its bizarre proclivities—fertility, sickness, desire—at the heart of the narrative. Leventhal reveals the frailties, perversities, and surprising resilience of her singular characters with prose that is by turns caustic, tender, and creepily hilarious. An impressive debut by a daring new literary voice." publisher

American Innovations by Rivka Galchen

"Alternately realistic, fantastical, witty and lyrical, these are all deeply emotional tales, written in exuberant, pitch-perfect prose and shadowed by the darkly marvellous and the marvellously uneasy. Whether exploring the tensions in a mother-daughter relationship or the finer points of time travel, Galchen takes great risks, proving that she is a writer like none other today." publisher

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