Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Strength in Brevity: A List for Short Story Month

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An incomplete sampling.

Maybe it's fitting that I'm the Writer-in-Residence for May, since somebody, somewhere decided this is Short Story Month, and the short story is far and away my favourite literary form. In the past, Steven W. Beattie has taken the occasion to cast his critical eye on a story a day, resulting in a spotlight being shone on thirty-one deserving subjects in turn. He seems to have taken a well-deserved month off this year, which I'm not about to begrudge him, but in the interest of celebrating stories I've compiled a list of my own of fifty short fiction collections that I believe worthy of your attention. I won't attempt to dissect nor analyze them, because to do so would reveal the shortcomings of my own critical faculties (especially in comparison to Beattie's), and I'm certainly not going to claim this list is exhaustively comprehensive, fairly representative, or in any way definitive. Nor am I saying that these selections represent the absolute agreed-upon best work of the writers in question. It's a list compiled while looking over my own shelves, simply, and all I'll add is that I think that reading most or all of these books would give an individual a pretty good survey of the form – though I won't pretend these books contain all there is to learn. We've got the rest of our reading lives to suss that out.

So, presented alphabetically, and with all the above provisos and caveats in mind:

Steve Almond, God Bless America
Donald Barthelme, 60 Stories
Rick Bass, The Hermit's Story
Ann Beattie, Follies
Kris Bertin, Bad Things Happen
David Bezmozgis, Natasha and Other Stories
Harold Brodkey, First Love and Other Sorrows
Aaron Burch, Backswing
Kevin Canty, Where the Money Went
Raymond Carver, Cathedral
Anton Chekhov, Selected Stories
Lynn Coady, Hellgoing
Leesa Cross-Smith, Every Kiss a War
Kelli Deeth, The Other Side of Youth
Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her
Stuart Dybek, The Coast of Chicago
Richard Ford, Rock Springs
Nadine Gordimer, Life Times
Barry Hannah, Airships
Kevin Hardcastle, Debris
Ernest Hemingway, The First Thirty-Nine Stories
Amy Hempel, The Collected Stories
Andrew Hood, The Cloaca
Lindsay Hunter, Don't Kiss Me
Denis Johnson, Jesus' Son
Amy Jones, What Boys Like
James Joyce, Dubliners
Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You
Lee Kvern, 7 Ways to Sunday
Anna Leventhal, Sweet Affliction
Pasha Malla, The Withdrawal Method
Lorrie Moore, Birds of America
Alice Munro, No Love Lost
Antonya Nelson, Some Fun
Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find
Heather O'Neill, Daydreams of Angels
ZZ Packer, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Ursula Pflug, After the Fires
Janette Platana, A Token of My Affliction
Dawn Raffel, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe
Karen Russell, Vampires in the Lemon Grove
James Salter, Last Night
George Saunders, Tenth of December
Jim Shepard, Love and Hydrogen
Andrew Sullivan, All We Want is Everything
Wells Tower, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
John Updike, The Maples Stories
Teri Vlassopolous, Bats or Swallows
Claire Vaye Watkins, Battleborn
Joy Williams, The Visiting Privilege

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Andrew Forbes

Andrew Forbes’s work has been nominated for the Journey Prize, and has appeared in The Feathertale Review, Found Press, PRISM International, The New Quarterly, Scrivener Creative Review, This Magazine, Hobart, The Puritan, All Lit Up, The Classical, and Vice Sports. He is the author of What You Need, a collection of fiction, and The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario.

You can write to Andrew throughout the month of May at

Go to Andrew Forbes’s Author Page