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7 top short story collections

Posted 16th Feb 2017

The brilliant For a Little While by Rick Bass, one of the greatest American short story writers living today, is out now. In tribute to this definitive collection of thirty years of Rick’s work, our Deputy Publisher Laura Macaulay has whittled down her favourite short story collections to just seven. From Raymond Carter to Tessa Hadley, read on for a short read to suit all tastes.

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin is a true literary find. Written with an off-the-cuff casualness at times, and a vibrant fizz at others – these stories about the seedier side of life deserve classic status.

It would be unforgivable to omit What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver. The concision of the writing, and the array of ordinary human misery and heartache makes each story a punch to the gut.

Angela Carter’s soaring, shimmering, and earthily sexy fairytales in The Bloody Chamber are more than simply retellings – they are radical reappropriations – and completely irresistible.

Stories by Chekhov – any of them – they were all miniature masterpieces, and he was amongst the greatest observers of human nature in all it’s messy complexity. Start with ‘The Kiss’.

A friend recommended Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson to me, and I was blown away by the beauty and force of these violent tales of lost souls and dreamers in America.

Tessa Hadley’s first collection – Sunstroke – is a subtle, restrained and masterful work about the lives of women and girls. Each story pulls the reader into a particular moment in time, and holds you there.

And one more for fun – Improper Stories by Saki – macabre, bizzare and hilarious, and so very English.

Have we primed your appetite for some short fiction? Get your hands on For a Little While on the Pushkin shop now, with free UK postage.