A poignant and hilarious memoir about an aging parent, an other-worldly collection of short stories and a critically lauded epic of four friends in New York make for great discussion this month.
The title of the new volume The Early Stories of Truman Capote is certainly truth in advertising. These are very early stories, written largely when Capote was a teenager, only recently discovered among the writer’s papers in the New York Public Library. A few of the 14 were published in his Greenwich, Connecticut, high school newspaper, but short of any surviving classmates, odds are good that these stories are reaching Capote fans for the first time.
Each year since 1915, a volume of Best American Short Stories has been published, offering a selection of the finest short fiction that has appeared in magazines and journals throughout the year. To celebrate the centenary, editors Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor have compiled a best of the best collection, 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.
Shirley Jackson, who died 50 years ago this month at the much too early age of 48, left behind a solid literary opus anchored in two indelible works: the iconic short story “The Lottery” and the classy ghost story novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Let Me Tell You collects 29 stories, including 21 that have never before been published, as well as many essays and humor pieces.
A dose of dark humor, a captivating historical novel and the 2014 National Book Award winner for fiction make great selections for reading groups this month.
I have to admit I was a bit nonplussed when Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in 2013. Not because she didn’t deserve it. On the contrary, no writer is more worthy of this crowning literary honor. No, my dismay stemmed from the fact that the secret had gotten out: For years, we Munro fans had fooled ourselves into thinking we were part of some exclusive society with special appreciation for an unsung master. Crazy, of course, since Munro had been reaching tens of thousands of readers for decades with her stories in The New Yorker. But such is the unvarnished assuredness of Munro’s prose, the knowing intimacy of her plots—it is easy to believe she is writing for you alone.
Three novels exploring the confines of art and artistry make great picks for reading groups this month.
Set on a fictional Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, Louise Erdrich’s chilling novel, The Round House, focuses on a Native American boy’s efforts to make sense of the world after a brutal crime. Joe is 13 when his mother, Geraldine, is raped near a sacred structure—the round house of the book’s title. The main suspect is white. When questions involving tribal courts...
LIFE’S TWISTS AND TURNSAlice Munro continues to demonstrate her mastery of the short-story form in Dear Life: Stories, another collection of probing, compassionate, beautifully crafted narratives. Many of the book’s 14 pieces take place in rural Ontario, where the author grew up. All of them exhibit the quiet power and luminous prose that are Munro’s trademarks. In the World...
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov, Leskov. Leskov? In his native Russia, the 19th-century writer Nikolai Leskov is counted among the greats, yet in our country, few know his work and even fewer have actually read it. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the translating team (and married couple) who have twice been awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize (for their...