I want to once again express my eternal gratitude for everything that you bring to the club, whether it be your thoughts and opinions, suggestions, friends, or all of the above! We are creeping up on a year since I first decided to start this, and I am so happy that you all are here reading together with me.
This month we will be picking from a list of short story collections. There are a lot more options than usual, so you will be able to vote for up to 6. There is no specific genre or theme in mind for the list, so we will return to the same list (plus any additions anyone wants to include) the next time we want a collection. It’s hard to summarize an entire short story collection, but I tried to find reasonably good synopses or reviews.
Our first meeting for the short story collection will be on May 8th at 9:00 pm Eastern.
I think the only other announcement I have is the existence of our new club on Clubhouse. It is not where meetings will be held; it is simply a medium through which people can hang out and invite any friends to get to know our members. I created it out of boredom during one of my many sleepless nights, and it is intended to be casual and only related to the book club in that it has our current and any prospective members in it. If you want to be invited, let me know! 😊
And on to the books!
The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
Bestselling author Ken Liu selects his multiple award-winning stories for a groundbreaking collection—including a brand-new piece exclusive to this volume.
With his debut novel, The Grace of Kings, taking the literary world by storm, Ken Liu now shares his finest short fiction in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. This mesmerizing collection features many of Ken’s award-winning and award-finalist stories, including: “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” (Finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards), “Mono No Aware” (Hugo Award winner), “The Waves” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” (Nebula and Sturgeon Award finalists), “All the Flavors” (Nebula Award finalist), “The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” (Nebula Award finalist), and the most awarded story in the genre’s history, “The Paper Menagerie” (The only story to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards).
Insightful and stunning stories that plumb the struggle against history and betrayal of relationships in pivotal moments, this collection showcases one of our greatest and original voices.
The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
The definitive edition of Calvino’s cosmicomics, bringing together all of these enchanting stories—including some never before translated—in one volume for the first time
In Italo Calvino’s cosmicomics, primordial beings cavort on the nearby surface of the moon, play marbles with atoms, and bear ecstatic witness to Earth’s first dawn. Exploring natural phenomena and the origins of the universe, these beloved tales relate complex scientific concepts to our common sensory, emotional, human world.
Now, The Complete Cosmicomics brings together all of the cosmicomic stories for the first time. Containing works previously published in Cosmicomics, t zero, and Numbers in the Dark, this single volume also includes seven previously uncollected stories, four of which have never been published in translation in the United States. This “complete and definitive collection” (Evening Standard) reconfirms the cosmicomics as a crowning literary achievement and makes them available to new generations of readers.
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions by Neil Gaiman
In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion… and anything is possible. In this, Gaiman’s first book of short stories, his imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders — a place where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control,” and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality — obscured by smoke and darkness, yet brilliantly tangible — in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator. It will dazzle your senses, touch your heart, and haunt your dreams.
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie burst onto the literary scene with her remarkable debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, which critics hailed as “one of the best novels to come out of Africa in years” (Baltimore Sun), with “prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes” (The Boston Globe); The Washington Post called her “the twenty-first-century daughter of Chinua Achebe.” Her award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun became an instant classic upon its publication three years later, once again putting her tremendous gifts – graceful storytelling, knowing compassion, and fierce insight into her characters’ hearts – on display. Now, in her most intimate and seamlessly crafted work to date, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.
In “A Private Experience,” a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she’s been pushing away. In “Tomorrow is Too Far,” a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother’s death. The young mother at the center of “Imitation” finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she learns that her husband has moved his mistress into their Lagos home. And the title story depicts the choking loneliness of a Nigerian girl who moves to an America that turns out to be nothing like the country she expected; though falling in love brings her desires nearly within reach, a death in her homeland forces her to reexamine them.
Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. The Thing Around Your Neck is a resounding confirmation of the prodigious literary powers of one of our most essential writers.
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.
The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.
But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them – and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.
The Summer Night
The Earth Men
The Third Expedition
-And the Moon Be Still As Bright
The Green Morning
Way in the Middle of the Air
The Naming of Names
The Old Ones
The Luggage Store
The Off Season
The Silent Towns
The Long Years
There Will Come Soft Rains
The Million Year Picnic
Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
This is a master class in the art of short story writing. Every short story is finely crafted. Many have humor, many have heartbreak, many have subtle romance.
Almost all have commentary on society, especially American society, that is as relevant today as it was in the 1950s.
What are these stories missing?
You reader. It’s missing you to unlock their meaning and beauty.
(Review by Daniel Clausen)
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson
Remember that monster on the wing of the airplane? William Shatner saw it on The Twilight Zone, John Lithgow saw it in the movie-even Bart Simpson saw it. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is just one of many classic horror stories by Richard Matheson that have insinuated themselves into our collective imagination.
Here are more than twenty of Matheson’s most memorable tales of fear and paranoia, including:
“Duel,” the nail-biting tale of man versus machines that inspired Steven Spielberg’s first film;
“Prey,” in which a terrified woman is stalked by a malevolent Tiki doll, as chillingly captured in yet another legendary TV moment;
“Blood Son,” a disturbing portrait of a strange little boy who dreams of being a vampire;
“Dress of White Silk,” a seductively sinister tale of evil and innocence.
Personally selected by Richard Matheson, the bestselling author of I Am Legend and What Dreams May Come, these and many other stories, more than demonstrate why he is rightfully regarded as one of the finest and most influential horror writers of our generation.
The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr
The exquisitely crafted stories in Anthony Doerr’s acclaimed debut collection take readers from the African coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emotional landscape. Doerr explores the human condition in all its varieties-metamorphosis, grief, fractured relationships, and slowly mending hearts-and conjures nature in both its beautiful abundance and crushing power. Some of his characters contend with tremendous hardship; some discover unique gifts; all are united by their ultimate deference to the mysteries of the universe outside themselves.
Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
A long-awaited collection of stories–twelve in all–by one of the most exciting writers at work today, the acclaimed author of Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Self-Help. Stories remarkable in their range, emotional force, and dark laughter, and in the sheer beauty and power of their language.
From the opening story, “Willing”, about a second-rate movie actress in her thirties who has moved back to Chicago, where she makes a seedy motel room her home and becomes involved with a mechanic who has not the least idea of who she is as a human being, Birds of America unfolds a startlingly brilliant series of portraits of the unhinged, the lost, the unsettled of our America.
In the story “Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People” (“There is nothing as complex in the world–no flower or stone–as a single hello from a human being”), a woman newly separated from her husband is on a long-planned trip through Ireland with her mother. When they set out on an expedition to kiss the Blarney Stone, the image of wisdom and success that her mother has always put forth slips away to reveal the panicky woman she really is.
In “Charades,” a family game at Christmas is transformed into a hilarious and insightful (and fundamentally upsetting) revelation of crumbling family ties.
In “Community Life,”a shy, almost reclusive, librarian, Transylvania-born and Vermont-bred, moves in with her boyfriend, the local anarchist in a small university town, and all hell breaks loose. And in “Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens,” a woman who goes through the stages of grief as she mourns the death of her cat (Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Haagen Dazs, Rage) is seen by her friends as really mourning other issues: the impending death of her parents, the son she never had, Bosnia.
In what may be her most stunning book yet, Lorrie Moore explores the personal and the universal, the idiosyncratic and the mundane, with all the wit, brio, and verve that have made her one of the best storytellers of our time.
How Long ’til Black Future Month? By N.K. Jemisin
In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang’s first published story, “Tower of Babylon,” won the Nebula Award in 1990. Subsequent stories have won the Asimov’s SF Magazine reader poll, a second Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Sidewise Award for alternate history. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992. Story for story, he is the most honored young writer in modern SF.
Now, collected here for the first time are all seven of this extraordinary writer’s stories so far-plus an eighth story written especially for this volume.
What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven’s other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others.
What shall we read next? (You may vote for up to six titles)
- Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions by Neil Gaiman (13%, 6 Votes)
- The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu (11%, 5 Votes)
- How Long 'til Black Future Month? By N.K. Jemisin (11%, 5 Votes)
- Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (11%, 5 Votes)
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (11%, 5 Votes)
- The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi (9%, 4 Votes)
- Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson (9%, 4 Votes)
- Birds of America by Lorrie Moore (7%, 3 Votes)
- The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino (7%, 3 Votes)
- Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut (7%, 3 Votes)
- The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr (4%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 8