top 5 short story collections of 2017

this year i’m giving short stories their own list because they fucking deserve it.** and besides, there’s too much of an emphasis on novels.

but keep in mind that i don’t always read collections in their publication year. i mix it up. some of the collections i read this year are older (like 20 years old and older) but they’re new to me.

  1. The Dark and Other Love Stories by Debbie Willis. this is fine, fine writing. textural. if one of the stories was a painting we’d x-ray through it’s various layers and fully uncover Debbie’s working process and show compositional changes. masterful “old-soul” writing.
  2. You Can’t Stay Here by Jasmina Odor. this is sensual writing, and dream-like. it’s a way of seeing the world through the scars of war trauma. the story “His” is devastating. my favourite? mesmerizing “Skin like Almonds”, a story about friendship and growing up.
  3. Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont. this is a novel in short stories and involves four friends–Everett, Nellie, Julie and Taz. we share their lives, on and off the reservation, as they grow up in the ’90s and early 2000s. vibrant and real and full of life. my favourite? the whole fucking book.
  4. Barrelling Forward by Eva Crocker. this is a great collection of stories about young people moving forward to the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. it’s exhausting. but there’s a level of control in the narration that’s both distancing and engaging. like a voice relentlessly talking inside your head. my favourite? “Dealing with Infestation”, a story that makes me scratch-scratch.
  5. Object Lessons from The Paris Review. okay, this is a book of stories that were published in the magazine over it’s long run. a famous writer (Beattie, Gaitskill, Hemon, Eggers) selects one story and then writes a short intro about what they loved about the story. it’s fascinating! it’s like taking a master craft class in short fiction. READ THIS BOOK. SLOWLY. YOU’LL LEARN SO MUCH.

again, this is a list of 5 not 10. in retrospect, i didn’t read as many collections this year. i can’t decide if this is because i’m reading more novels as research for my own writing projects; if collections were less noticeable in the marketplace; if it was a relatively quiet year for collections. i dunno. let me know what you think.

you know, i haven’t even picked up the Journey Prize Anthology yet this year, not after the plagiarism debacle*** and resultant recall of said book. GAH.

**short stories are the fucking best.

***Richard, WTF?