Book Bingo: Collection of Short Stories
July 1, 2016
Summer Book Bingo is a partnership with The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures to provide free summer reading fun for adults. Swing by your local Seattle library branch or any one of SAL’s partner bookstores to grab a Bingo Card, then spend your summer reading great books—you can win fabulous prizes!
In this post, Christina Gould, SAL’s box office hero and Patron Services Manager, shares the beginning of her love affair with the short story, plus five of her picks to give you a little inspiration for the “Collection of Short Stories” square.
My love for short stories was serendipitous. Fresh out of college, I found myself in an artsy coastal town in New Hampshire – population around 20,000 – not a hotbed for graduates with a BA in Sociology looking for work in their chosen field. Thus, I found myself waitressing in a fine dining restaurant owned by an English Professor from the U of NH. This gem of a restaurant gave me a simple but elegant taste for French cuisine, taught me how to hand pour a perfect martini, and introduced me to the glory of the short story. This was a restaurant that had The New Yorker delivered to its doorstep!
It was not uncommon for some of us to gather in the bar after a bustling, satisfying evening of hospitality with a bottle of Pouilly Fuisse to discuss, with or without the professor, the latest published short story from the pages of The New Yorker. Between the Professor’s recommendations and The New Yorker’s stories, my literary world widened, and I fell hard for the works of Flannery O’Connor, John Cheever, John Updike, Raymond Carver, William Maxwell, Shirley Jackson, Ann Beattie, Donald Barthelme, Eudora Welty, and Alice Munro.
A collection of any of the above-mentioned authors’ works to complete the “Collection of Short Stories” square on your Bingo card would be a treasure to hold. However, collections can be weighty, and strategy is crucial when playing bingo. Here are a few suggestions that contain an average of 10 stories each that I have recently enjoyed:
Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
This gifted writer has been writing short stories for five decades. Her stories excel at capturing the complex and surprising turns in everyday lives. Many of the characters are residents in a fictional town outside of Boston called Godolphin. The stories and characters made me chuckle and applaud; they held secrets and were filled with surprises. This is the title on my short story square.
Tenth of December by George Saunders
This collection is written by one of the most original writers of his generation. The 10 stories are all about people no matter how strangely sci-fi they seem. I will never forget the image of a middle-class home where human lawn ornaments are a status symbol. Saunders’ stories are always about humanity, which, after hearing and meeting the man at a SAL event, is no surprise. He demonstrates humility, kindness, and understanding of the highest order.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Most of the characters in these stories move from India and the United States. This debut collection of nine stories features marriages that have been arranged, rushed into, betrayed, invaded and exhausted. In these elegant, touching stories, characters seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. They lose, they gain, they discover, they uncover, all while navigating back and forth between two cultures.
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
Packer’s characters, mostly black teenage girls, resonate unforgettably through the eight stories in this outstanding debut collection. She takes us into the lives of these characters on the fringe, unsure of themselves and where they are going, with tenderness, humor and unexpected detail. Her stories help us see the world with a clearer vision.
Redeployment by Phil Klay
This searing debut collection takes the reader to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there and what happened to the soldiers who returned. The stories are told in the first person but with a variety of points of view. There are stories of heroism, kindness, violence, machismo and hopelessness. These stories are gritty and unsparing and leave us with a disturbing sense of the day-by-day experience of individual soldiers in Iraq.
Thank you, Christina! For more Book Bingo inspiration, see Ruth Dickey’s ideas for the “Written By a SAL Speaker” square, here.