Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013: The Summer Mel Reads Short Fiction

Like, seriously, all the time. I might even have to create a category in my reading spreadsheet for all the story collections I'm reading this year. But I can't help it - they're so damn good.

I've just finished Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Random House Audio, 2008) and I was awed by the range of characters, by the ways they see themselves and each other, by Lahiri's facile plumbing of their secrets and self-deceptions. (Narrator Sarita Choudhury was right there reveling in it all with me, though her co-narrator Ajay Naidu managed to stay a bit remote.) The title story and "A Choice of Accommodations" (which was Naidu's strongest reading) in particular struck several chords with me.

There was also George Saunders's Tenth of December (Random House Audio, 2013), which: man. That guy can string some words together, I tell you. What a delicious collection. Smart and fast and quirkily twisted and visceral by turns. "The Semplical Girl Diaries," "Puppy," and "Victory Lap" will live in my head forever - true greatness. (But guys - avoid the audiobook. He self-narrated, and it just didn't work.) 

And I reviewed new release Brief Encounters with the Enemy by Saïd Sayrafiezedah (The Dial Press, 2013) for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, so I don't want to repeat myself here. But I'm not steering you wrong when I tell you that this captures a very universal modern America via some every-men whose stories are told with captivating and forthright prose. I didn't cry, but I did laugh, and it did become a part of me. And I love this Edward Hopper-looking cover image (is that a Hopper?) - the outside looking in thing, quite perfect for this collection.

Have you guys been reading much short fiction lately? What else should I look out for, now that I'm becoming extraordinarily partial to the form?

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