The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017

Editor: Sarah Vowell (introduction) Type: Fiction, non-fiction, short stories, essays, comics, poetry, memoir Published: 2017 I read it: November 2017 If 2016 was the volume that felt like a last big inhale before American politics crashed down at the end of that year, then this year’s BANR collection is the painful exhale, reading like a…

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

Author: Edith Wharton Editor: David Stuart Davies Type: Fiction, short stories (anthology) Published: 1904-1937 (original stories); 2009 (this collection) I read it: September 2017 In the story “Kerfol,” which happens to be about a pack of ghost dogs, one character remarks that “you know every Breton house has its ghost-story.” This certainly seems to be…

The New Weird

Editors: Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer Type: Fiction, short stories (anthology) Published: 2008 I read it: September 2017 When I first read Jeff VanderMeer, I was also reading H.P. Lovecraft for the first time. Because of that, and because of my limited exposure to authors in this vein, I over-attributed much of VanderMeer’s craft to…

Unnatural Creatures

Editor: Neil Gaiman Type: Fiction, short stories Published: 2013 I read it: August 2017 Neil Gaiman is all over the place. He releases a constant stream of his own books while at the same time having shows or movies made of his books and writing piles and piles of blurbs to go on the backs of…

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003

Author: Dave Eggers (series editor), Zadie Smith (introduction) Type: Fiction, non-fiction, short stories, essays, comics, humor (anthology) Published: 2003 I read it: May 2017 2003. The first year of the Iraq war. The release year of a bunch of my favorite albums before I turned more noticeably into new tastes. A full decade before my first…

Magic for Beginners

Author: Kelly Link Type: Fiction, short stories Published: 2005 I read it: March 2017 “You can’t have everything,” the cheerleader says. “Not even in a story. You can’t have all the stories you want.” “I know,” the Devil says. He whines. “But I still want it.” Kelly Link acts as her own Devil throughout this…

Pastoralia

Author: George Saunders Type: Fiction, short stories Published: 2000 I read it: January 2017 I remember a short story writing class at ISU where one of the texts was The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and the story “Sea Oak” from this collection was definitely in that book. I instantly recalled the title, but…