Daily Archives: September 3, 2008

Shelf Examination: Short Stories

Once upon a time, on a hectic blue planet, everybody was so busy earning a living, doing housework, feeding the dog, feeding the cat, feeding the marmoset, running errands, and surfing the internet, that nobody had time to read anymore.  So everybody in the book industry moved to upstate New York and raised goats instead of writing and publishing, and all the unemployed librarians joined the Venusian zombie ninja resistance movement.  This primarily involved scanning the night sky for warships and composing protest songs, just in case Venusian zombie ninjas actually existed, and had designs on taking over the hectic blue planet.

Okay, maybe the goat-raising part was a bit of a stretch, but it never hurts to imagine what a world without reading might look like.  Consider my scenario a foretaste of the dystopian future that awaits you if you don’t come check out the Main Library’s short story collection.  Still not convinced you have time to read?  Try one of these books on for size, and see if the power of quick, quality fiction can’t change your mind.

The Collection:  Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories, James Thomas & Robert Shapard, eds.

Authors Include:  Dave Eggers, Grace Paley, John Updike, Amy Hempel

Random Sample:  David Galef’s “My Date With Neanderthal Woman,” in which a young man, bored with contemporary women, tries dating somebody from a different era…literally.


The Collection: Many Bloody Returns, Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner, eds.

Authors include:  Tanya Huff, Jim Butcher, Christopher Golden, Carolyn Haines.

Random Sample:  Bill Crider’s “I Was a Teenage Vampire” drolly riffs on J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

book jacket      book jacket      book jacket      book jacket


The Collection:  Paris Noir, Maxim Jakubowski, ed.

Authors Include:  Cara Black, Michael Moorcock, Dominique Mantoli, Stella Duffy.

Random Sample:  A jaded man looks back on his carefree past as a busker and rues his loss of innocence in John Williams’s “New Shoes.”


The Collection: This is Not Chick Lit, Elizabeth Merrick, ed.

Authors include:  Aimee Bender, Francine Prose, Curtis Sittenfeld, Mary Gordon.

Random Sample:  Who was Dolly Mae Devine, and what was her story?  Scholarly documents, archival photographs and personal statements tell the tale in Carolyn Ferrell’s “Documents of Passion Love.”


The Collection: This is My Funniest, Mike Resnick, ed.

Authors Include:  Spider Robinson, Connie Willis, Harry Turtledove, Jane Yolen.

Random Sample:  A heated exchange of letters about the ownership of a certain set of genes makes Nancy Kress’s “Patent Infringement” a painfully good read.

Please don’t doom your favorite authors to a lifetime of herding goats!  Try a short story collection on for size today, and remember:  only YOU can prevent the Venusian zombie ninja apocalypse!

How many more genres and formats can there be, you ask?  Tune in to the next installment of Shelf Examination and find out…

–Leigh Anne


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