Are you a sucker for a story that begins with “once upon a time”? This fall, two accomplished short-story writers are lending a kind of dark beauty to the season with their enthralling collections of modernized fairy tales.
Southern writer Tony Earley’s excellently written and highly readable Mr. Tall consists of six stories and a short novella. The characters are a mix of country folks and city people, except for the novella, which contains a mix of real people and mythical characters. Mostly, the stories are about how men and women meet and how they live out their lives together.
“We all forget things,” says a character in one of the four engaging novellas Mary Gordon collects in The Liar’s Wife. “We must.” Yet despite this sage observation, it is really the act of remembering past associations that serves as a common thread in this beautifully-rendered book. Gordon writes about young, intelligent women and men in the throes of self-discovery at formative junctures in their lives.
Katherine Hall Page’s award-winning Faith Fairchild mysteries have delighted readers since 1991, when she released her debut, The Body in the Belfry, and introduced the world to her charming caterer and sleuth. Small Plates, Page’s first collection of short stories, is filled with wit and intricately spun mysteries, along with decadent descriptions of all things culinary. While Faith makes plenty of appearances in stories such as “The Body in the Dunes,” new characters shine just as brightly in “The Would-Be Widower” and “Hiding Places.” Cozy mystery lovers are sure to find a tale to sate their appetite here.
Chestnut Street in Dublin, Ireland, is shaped like a horseshoe, with a “big bit of grass in the middle beside some chestnut trees,” and “thirty small houses in a semicircle.” These houses are inhabited by scores of fascinating human beings, however ordinary, who figure in these stories by Maeve Binchy, written between novels. Now, after her death in 2012 at 72, they are finally being published.
Three short-story stalwarts showcase their acclaimed skills with their first collections in several years, while a newcomer who’s made his name in television and movies demonstrates that his talents aren’t limited to the screen.
The characters in the compelling stories novelist and screenwriter Francesca Marciano collects in The Other Language are displaced—both geographically and in matters of the heart. Mostly women, but a few men as well, they are educated, well-heeled and discontent, adrift in an ever-contracting world that has clouded the notion of home.
In a reversal of the normal career arc, Tom Barbash has waited 10 years after the publication of his first novel to produce a short story collection. The 13 stories of Stay Up with Me are both contemporary and timeless, and reveal Barbash as a writer of abundant talent when it comes to short fiction.From the opener, “The Break,” where the ultimate helicopter mother attempts to...
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...