Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Short Stories: Essential Reading

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In December, the amount of free time to read diminishes or completely disappears. This month, Literary Mamas compile the Essential Short Story collection. Find one here to satisfy your need for a compelling quick read!


Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.


Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-Editor, shares, "I discovered the classic What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver as a teen. I didn't understand then how those spare stories could have such an impact on me and would re-read them to puzzle it out. I'm still not sure how he does it. I'm familiar with the controversy over how Carver's editor used a heavy hand and how much the published stories deviated from the author's original vision. This, too, lends another fascinating layer to the reading of this collection."


Suzanne Kamata, Fiction Co-Editor, writes, "Mine would be Birds of America by Lorrie Moore, which includes one of my all-time favorite motherhood stories, "People Like That Are the Only People Here." These stories are both funny and sad, and tear my heart apart every time I read them."


Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant Merle Huerta shares, "O'Henry's collection of Short Stories, in particular "Gift of the Magi" and "The Last Leaf", are always inspirational. Many of his stories focus on relationships, faith, human kindness, and generally what sustains the human condition. But as an avid reader and budding writer, I find his story development fascinating. The story unfolds, drawing the reader deeper into the depth of the characters' lives and their unfolding drama. Then there's always a twist at the end, some event no one could have imagined or predicted. Is it an 'aha' moment? I'm not sure. But, no matter how many times I've read the stories, I find myself more reflective, pondering hidden meanings and symbolism. If nothing else, O'Henry's stories are perfect for the holiday season."


Ezine Co-Editor Jessica DeVoe Riley, enjoyed The Roald Dahl Omnibus: Perfect Bedtime Stories for Sleepless Nights. "Several years ago, a friend gave me this book and never before has a book lived up to its title so perfectly. The stories read like old Twilight Zone episodes (and in one case, was made into one) and are darkly fascinating journeys into the bizarre fancies hidden within the seemingly normal people around you."


Shari MacDonald Strong, Senior Editor and Columnist, writes, "If I could take one short story collection away to a deserted island with me, I wouldn't think twice before choosing one of my all-time favorite books: Flannery O'Connor's The Complete Stories. I first read these stories years ago as a young girl, when I had just begun to cut my teeth on great literature, and I sat, open-mouthed, at their power. For me, O'Connor will always be the master of short fiction."


Columnist and Columns Editor Stephanie Hunt shares, "I love, and have just recently reread, Amy Bloom's collection entitled Come To Me. Via fascinating characters and lovely language, she packs each sentence with layers of revelation."


Violeta Garcia-Mendoza, Columnist, suggests Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies and Cristina Henriquez's Come Together, Fall Apart. "Though Lahiri's stories are often set in India, and Henriquez's in Panama, both writers return again and again to themes of home and otherness and fascinate me with their beautiful, haunting exploration of place and its impact on psyche. I love these collections so much I literally re-read both of them every year on my birthday."


Columnist and Creative Nonfiction Editor Susan Ito says simply: "Runaway (or anything) by Alice Munro."


Finally, Amy Hudock, Editor-in-Chief, says, "I keep going back to the short story collection: Mother Knows: 24 Tales of Motherhood edited by Susan Burmeister-Brown and Linda Swanson-Davies of Glimmer Train Stories fame. I would give this book to any remaining out-of-date professors who think fiction about motherhood can't be literary enough to count among the classics. This is a book that would change their minds. Although I could recommend much great writing about motherhood, this is one of the few (if not only) collections of short fiction focusing on motherhood. The stories represent a wide rage of voices in artfully constructed prose -- with depth, clarity, and imagination. Authors include Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Beattie, Karen Outen, Dianne King Akers, and others. These stories go beyond the norm - beyond what is expected - and challenge the reader to keep up. This book doesn't offer a quick read, but one to be savored over time."


Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.


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