It’s the shortest day which makes it National Short Story Day. There’s lots of great stuff going on, not least over at the official website. I thought I might take a moment to recommend some of the stories and collections that have kept me entertained over the last twelve months. First off there’s the virtual bookshelf of online fiction I enjoyed this year over on my tumblr blog, The Short & Long of It. The archive features a whole host of great free to read online fiction, along with some videos and audio recordings of great readings.
Reality, Reality – Jackie Kay
Another quality collection from one of the very best contemporary short story writers. One thing I appreciated most about this collection was the interplay between the stories, sometimes explicit, with a character from one story moves into another, most often implicit, with the thematic links between the stories giving the text as a whole a weight greater than the sum of its admittedly brilliant parts. I love Jackie Kay’s writing and this book only made me love it more.
The Games of Night – Stig Dagerman
A dark little collection, as you might expect from a collection by a Swedish writer who committed suicide when only 31. I blogged at length about this back in October when only three stories in. I was impressed already and the subsequent stories lived up to the promise of that initial impression. Not sure how easy it is to get hold of a copy of this as it is out of print (I found my copy in a local secondhand book shop) but Abe’s looks like it has a few copies on the virtual shelves. Well worth seeking out.
Freaks! – Caroline Smailes and Nik Perring
If bleak but tenderhearted Scandanavian writing is not up your street then perhaps this collection filled with larger than life characters might be. The superhero comic fan in me loved this collection of stories about ‘real’ people with super powers. Each story is accompanied by an illustration by Darren Craske that serves to not only support but extend the story. Take a look at Invisible to see what I mean. None of the stories were attributed to their individual author, so part of the fun of reading was trying to work out who might have written what. As such, I’m not sure who to thank for the crafting of my favourite story (Statuesque) or indeed my other favourites (Sixteen, Soup, The Boner, Boy and Beauty) so I will just urge anyone who likes quirky contemprary tales to grab a copy of this uniquely strange and strangely unique collection.
The Best British Short Stories – ed. Nicholas Royle
Yes, I know this contains my story ‘Half-mown Lawn’ but the other 19 stories in there really blew me away. It was quite something to read my contributor copy in the knowledge that I had a story alongside such fantastic examples of the genre. I posted line or two reviews of each of the stories back in May. These really are stories that live up to being between the covers of a Best British Short Stories collection. If you like short fiction there really is no excuse for not having this already.
Finally, as a little Short Story Day treat, here’s a reading of my story from Jawbreakers, Peekaboo. Happy Short Story Day!