Do you like the Twilight Zone? Of course you do. But you might not know Richard Matheson. And you should, because arguably the most iconic episodes were adapted from his masterfully-written short fiction. Each story is so tightly crafted as to border on pulp, each ending twists with a stinger that demands your return. If I'm on a plane: 1) I have a Richard Matheson collection in my carry on and 2) I'm not going to look at the wing of the plane. Yeah. He wrote that.
Maybe you already know her short story "Cat Person," which captured a modern feeling—one that has barely begun to be put in print—so well I felt it in my body. There's more of those sickeningly visceral moments in this collection. The stories feel like urban legends stretched into something else, something you feel in the pit of your stomach and taste at the back of your mouth.
Zweig here captures two striking truths. First, the transition from child to adult comes not by steady gradualism but in catalytic episodes in which the membrane between the two worlds thins by means of betrayal, violence (emotional and otherwise), and critical acts of independence. Second, a shocking number of life's Big Moments would entirely resemble cheap melodrama if not for the transmuting--almost alchemical--effect these moments initiate deep in the souls of innocent parties who are snared in the drama's orbit. A compulsive read!
Chris Power made his literary bones as a critic, writing the long-running series "A Brief Survey of the Short Story" for the Guardian. It's no surprise, then, that the stories in his debut collection are marked by a quiet mastery of the form, as assured as it is unassuming. They tend to center on characters who could be described as searchers: travelers and tourists driven by mysterious motives, looking to cure some elusive lack in their lives. All this enigma rewards careful reading; the more you strain to understand these variously broken people, the more apparent the quality of the prose becomes. And as if all that wasn't enough, the book gets extra credit for having one of my favorite dust jacket designs in recent memory.
Once you start in on "the Finkelstein 5", you will not be able to put this down. This story will grab you, enrage you, and break you while you chant along in a radical cry for justice. Adjei-Brenyah's voice rings powerful and true throughout this collection of stories. Satirical, heartbreaking, and violent stories set just within reach of "dystopian", but oh so relevant today.
Tales From the Inner City is short story collection by the beloved artist Shaun Tan, where crocodiles live on the 87th floor, men turn into frogs, and snails fall in love. His world is our world slightly altered by small detail. Through Tan's unique imagination and breathtaking art, he investigates our deeply relational coexistence with animals. They occupy our imagination in fantastic and ordinary ways (just like his stories). I haven't been able to shake the otherworldly fugue I encountered in Tales from the Inner City and I think everyone will enjoy dipping their toes in Tan's stories.
The stories in Friday Black are volatile, unpredictable concoctions. While reading them, I imagined author Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah as a mad scientist, mixing beakers with wild abandon: some societal critique here, a little gallows humor there, a dose of dystopian sci-fi just for kicks. The resulting stories feel just as likely to combust as they do to end. Adjei-Brenyah is among the most exciting new voices in fiction I've encountered all year, the heir apparent to Vonnegut and Saunders's tradition of dark, socially incisive postmodernism.
This collection is slippery, atmospheric and delightfully horific. Blending folklore with reality, Johnson weaves together common themes of desire and otherness that leaves you with a strange eerie feeling long after you've finished. Come for the stor of the house that fallsin love with the occupant, but you'll stay for the writing, which feels like a thick fog. It hangs over everything, hazy, gray and beautifully cryptic.
This book is a twisted bramble, ripe with grimy tales that really satisfy. Enriquez's voice entertains, educates, and terrifies. "I like dark themes,' she says, "...I would say it's my way of looking at things." amen, sister.
If you enjoy the fiction of Ursula Le Guin, and seek something new, read Karin Tidbeck. Her novel Amatka is powerful but Tidbeck's short stories are nigh perfect, perfectly weird.