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December 17, 2009

Favorite Short Story Collections of 2009

As much as I enjoy reading literary novels and nonfiction, my heart still belongs to the short story. The past few years I have read more books and less literary magazines, and have devoured most of my short fiction in anthologies and collections. These are the six short fiction collections I have raved about the most to friends this year.

All links go to the authors' contributions to the Book Notes series or to the Amazon page for the book, and I have reposted my original review below each book (where available).

What was your favorite short story collection of 2009?

Big World by Mary Miller

I ran a contest asking readers what book they would like to have in a pocket-sized edition. The over 140 responses made me think, what book would I want to slip in my back pocket?

Mary Miller's Big World would be a good choice. At 4"x6", it easily fit in my jeans' back pocket and the stories were filled with sharp dialogue and an incredible amount of emotional tension that always brings her humanly flawed characters to life.

Do Not Deny Me by Jean Thompson

Jean Thompson creates everyday characters and situations everyone can relate to. Her latest short story collection, Do Not Deny Me, further cements her status as one of the most talented short fiction writers of her generation.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

Wells Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned lives up to its title. This collection as as raw and powerful as any book I have read all year.

It's Beginning to Hurt by James Lasdun

James Lasdun is a masterful writer, and It's Beginning to Hurt is yet another example of his inventive and rich storytelling skills.

Love in Infant Monkeys by Lydia Millet

Lydia Millet is one of my favorite writers, and her first collection of short fiction, Love in Infant Monkeys marries celebrities with animals to great effect. These keenly written interactions of human and animal move these tales forward and offer rare insights into the human psyche as well as our celebrity-obsessed culture.

Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing by Lydia Peelle

Lydia Peelle's short fiction has earned comparisons to Alice Munro and Mary Gaitskill, but her voice is unique and strong in this eight-story debut collection of short stories, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing. These are impressive stories of the past colliding with the present, and the emotional chaos that ensues.

also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy 2009 favorite novels

online "best of 2009" book lists
online "best of 2009" music lists
Online Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Book Lists
best of the decade (2000-2009) online music lists

previous lists at Largehearted Boy
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)