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Want to read a story with all the depth, questions and quality of a novel, written by highly skilled writers in about 5% of the space? Short stories can be heartbreaking, mysterious and incredibly detailed; for a perfectly formed, bite-sized smorgasbord of stories, browse our Short Story recommendations here.
The twenty-one stories in Reader, I Married Him - one of the most celebrated lines in fiction - are inspired by Jane Eyre and shaped by its perennially fascinating themes of love, compromise and self-determination. A bohemian wedding party takes an unexpected turn for the bride and her daughter; a family trip to a Texan waterpark prompts a life-changing decision; Grace Poole defends Bertha Mason and calls the general opinion of Jane Eyre into question. Mr Rochester reveals a long-kept secret in Reader, She Married Me , and The Mirror boldly imagines Jane's married life after the novel ends. A new mother encounters an old lover after her daily swim and inexplicably lies to him, and a fitness instructor teaches teenage boys how to handle a pit bull terrier by telling them Jane Eyre's story.
Drawing on a host of enthralling characters - a farmer, a cuckold and a teenager exploring his sexuality; good parents, bad parents, writers and soldiers; a student, a rent boy and a hitman - Boyne examines the hopeful and the damaged without prejudice or judgement. This, his first collection of short stories, is some of John Boyne's finest writing to date. It includes 'Rest Day' which won the 2015 Writing.ie Short Story of the Year award in Ireland.
Ken Liu has published almost 100 short stories and won nearly every genre award in existence. Here, he has selected his 15 favourite stories, including The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary (Finalist for Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards), Mono No Aware (Hugo Award winner), The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species (Nebula and Sturgeon award finalists).
Charming, sometimes funny, sometimes strange, always well written, these are little jewels from the pen that gave us Miss Garnet’s Angel and Mr Golightly’s Holiday. She is a witty and elegant writer with a beautiful turn of phrase. A few well-placed words bring characters and settings effortlessly to life. Dip in and read one or take them all in order, either way you are in for a treat. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
What can one say about such a collection of stories on infidelity except read them. They cover the spectrum, divided into three sections, “Going Out”, “Staying Out” and “Never Coming Home”. Poignant and beautifully poetic, they leave you with an edge of sadness. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
They say there's no place like home. It's where the heart is...Meet the little boy who believes in miracles. Meet the mother who loves to bring babies home from the newborn aisle of her supermarket. Meet the husband who carves a longed-for baby out of ice as a gift for his wife. Meet the widow who is reminded of romance whilst standing at the kitchen sink.
'Katherine Heiny's work does something magical: elevates the mundane so that it has the stakes of a mystery novel, gives women's interior lives the gravity they so richly deserve - and makes you laugh along the way' Lena Dunham In the title story, we meet Maya, who is torn between her wryly funny boyfriend and the allure of her veterinarian. In Andorra, a woman's lover calls her every Thursday as he drives to meet his wife at marriage counselling. How to Give the Wrong Impression shows us a woman pining for her roommate, a man who will hold her hand but then tell her that her palm is sweaty. In The Dive Bar a girl agrees to have a drink with her married lover's wife. Revisiting Maya in several stories, chronicling her various states of love, this is a collection about how we are unfaithful to each other, both wilfully and unwittingly. Populated with unwelcome house guests, disastrous birthday parties, needy but loyal friends, and flirtatious older men, the stories are emotionally astute, sexy, and disarming-and they introduce us to a tart, and marvellous, new voice.
The ominously significant title of ‘The Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ slashes through the delicate vibrancy of the cover, summing up the contents beautifully. 18 short stories and two poems, steaming with life, death, passion, regret and the occasional gnashing of twisted, gnarly fangs. I absolutely loved Stephen King’s short introductions to each tale, almost as much as the stories themselves. The story behind the story reveals snippets of information, of reasoning, the why and how. This is a wonderfully diverse collection from full on fantasy, to possibilities and practicalities, and yet there are links to be discovered. Some tales made me shiver, others raise a smirking eyebrow, they all though, set my mind pondering and questing, and personal favourites were Afterlife and The Little Green God of Agony. These are knowing, crafty, sharp stories, ready to catch you unaware and to give your imagination a hammering - in other words, they are fabulous. ~ Liz Robinson
From the No. 1 bestselling author of THE MISSING AND THE DEAD comes the short novel: 22 DEAD LITTLE BODIES, plus two short stories: STRAMASH and DI STEEL'S BAD HEIR DAY, and a novella: THE 45% HANGOVER, all featuring his most popular characters - DS Logan McRae and DCI Roberta Steel.
Cockfosters is a funny, frank and forceful story collection dealing with ageing, ambition and the patterns of repetition and renewal found in long friendships and marriages. It opens irresistible new windows onto the world from Arizona to Dubai and from Moscow to Berlin. Turning both a panoramic and a zoom lens on the way we live now, these stories range through hitch-hiking in Bohemian forest-land to cresting the waves of the Aegean to the mending of hearts and the recovery of lost property at the end of the Piccadilly Line. Helen Simpson writes with great warmth, wit and candour about the complexities of modern life, and this new collection shows why she is hailed as one of the best short story writers at work in the world today.
The Marriage Manual: Christmas Eve. Two parents endeavour to construct their son's Christmas present from a DIY kit and in the process find themselves deconstructing their marriage. Christmas at the Airport: A glitch in the system, travellers stranded and all sorts of lives colliding in the face of a sudden birth...The Boxing Day Ball: Maureen has never been out with the local girls before. Who knew that a disco in the Village Hall could be life-changing? A Snow Garden: Two little boys, dumped with their divorced father for his share of the Christmas holidays and none of them with a clue how to enjoy it. I'll Be Home for Christmas The most famous boy in the world comes home hoping to escape the madness with a normal family Christmas. Trees: As if Christmas wasn't wearing enough, now his elderly parent is asking for a hole in the ground...Father and son break old habits and plant a tree to mark the start of the new year.
Hilarious, exuberant, subtle, tender, brutal, spectacular, and above all unexpected: these two extraordinary volumes contain the limitless possibilities of the British short story. This is the first anthology capacious enough to celebrate the full diversity and energy of its writers, subjects and tones.
There is a real skill in being able to conjure a whole life in just a few pages, to be able to leave a reader with an enduring feeling in just a short time. Here you will find lasting stories about life the universe and everything, from authors you already know as novelists and some that will be knew and welcome friends. We love a good short story, not just because they provide great reading in bite-size chunks - perfect for the trip to work, or a moment when you just want a small piece of brilliance in your life – but also because they are (if they are good) a perfect piece of art, capturing the human condition in a snapshot that stays with the reader for much longer than it took to write. As Graham Greene put it; “a novel can seldom have the sense of perfection which you find in Chekhov’s story, The Lady with the Dog.” From Chekhov to Julian Barnes via a whole host of other perfectionists, we have hand-picked the very best of short story collections for readers of all tastes.