I love short stories, and I can't say that I've always had a great affection for them. For the longest time--as a direct result of forced reading in school I suspect--I wanted little to do with short stories in my free time. When I sat down to read and slip into another world, I yearned for a prolonged trip into an extensive literary adventure. Short stories always struck me as literary rejects...plots that failed to blossom into the end-all and be-all of readerly wonderment...the novel.
A few years ago when, as a Master's student, school took over my life completely, I found myself longing to read but wielding the attention span of a gnat. As a result, I turned to the short story with the utmost suspicion but an undeniable need to read something...anything. Once I finally dove into a collection or two, my affinity for the genre began to grow by leaps and bounds, and now I find myself a complete convert. I read short stories often and with vigor. Two wonderful short story collections, No One Belongs Here More Than You and The Secret Lives of People in Love, both made it to my Top 10 for 2007--something I never would've suspected a few years ago.
When I got wind of Kate's Short Story Reading Challenge, my ears perked up, my eyes got shifty, and I started mentally flipping through the available short story collections hiding in the corners of my "to be read" stack. Kate has laid out several options for completing the challenge, and I've decided to go with option 5:
Option 5: This is the custom option under the rubric of which you can tailor your reading list to best meet your personal reading aspirations. You might wish to craft a list that focuses on a particular place, or era, or genre. Or you might wish to include reading about short stories as well as of short stories, for example, such works as Frank O’Connor’s The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story. It’s entirely up to you.
I've decided to tackle four unread collections from my stacks, one collection that I don't own yet, but that I've had my eye on, and a smattering of selections from other sources like the "Best of" collections and literary journals like Tin House, The Golden Handcuffs Review, and Swink (all of which are on my nightstand right now). I'll deem a smattering at least 5 stories worth discussing.
Without further ado....the list of books:
1. The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter
2. I Am No One You Know, by Joyce Carol Oates
3. Little Black Book of Stories, by A.S. Byatt
4. Demonology, by Rick Moody
5. Like You'd Understand, Anyway, by Jim Shepard
I'll also toss the following collections into the ring as alternates:
20th Century Ghosts, by Joe Hill (don't own)
Close Range: Wyoming Stories, by Annie Proulx (do own)
I have to thank Kate for coming up with such a wonderful challenge. I'm SO EXCITED! I'll keep you all posted on my progress.