Short Story lovers discussion

Short Story Collection

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message 1: by Renee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Renee | 4 comments Hello!

I am curious to learn how others in this group read short story collections. Do you read one story per day? A few at a time? How much time do you need to think about what you've just read before starting the next story? (I guess this is a processing question)


message 2: by Patti (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Patti | 6 comments I usually read a collection several stories at a time, until I'm done. Anthologies however, I read a story at a time, sometimes with breaks that are months long. To me an anthology is like a story in a magazine - it doesn't relate in any way whatsoever to the story that was published the month before or after. Sometimes with an anthology, I'll go through and read my favorite authors first, sometimes I leave them for last. Sometimes I come away with a new favortie author.

message 3: by Katy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Katy | 2 comments I'd say it depends on why you're reading the story. If it's mostly for entertainment, read until you stop being entertained! However, some authors go beyond what could possibly be taken in through a single, quick, casual reading. With these kinds of stories, I like to read slowly, suck the marrow from them, write notes in the margins. It's like eating; sometimes if you eat too fast you miss half the flavor and textures. likewise, some stories are meant to be chewed thouroughly and sit on the toungue for a while before swallowing. It improves digestion!

message 4: by David (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

David | 29 comments Mod
Renee, I think that's just a great question. It seems to me that this issue is one of the reasons why people are reluctant to read short stories. Each story contains so much -- if it's a good collection -- that I usually feel compelled to pause a little, to try to take it all in. That's especially true with anthologies, like Patti says. That makes for a real start-and-stop kind of reading that can feel a little jerky to some. It's the same thing (or an even more intense version) with poetry, whose audience is of course even smaller.

Anyway, my pause usually isn't as long as a day if I have lots of time to read in one stretch. I might take a minute or so to reflect. On the other hand, if I'm pressed for time and have just finished one story, I probably won't start the next one at all. I'm happier breaking my reading where the story ends, rather than trying to squeeze a little out of the next one and having to stop in the middle.

message 5: by Joel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Joel (joelneff) Good question. I find I tend to read a story or two per day, often as a break from whatever novel I'm reading at the time.

I like to take my time and savor the stories, especially when they are by my favorite authors; often I want some time to reflect on a story after I have read it and will hold off on the next story until the next day.

message 6: by Danna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

Danna | 2 comments I'm usually hooked by the first story and can't put the collection down, so I'll read all the stories in a day or two, put it down, go back (again and again)and reread the stories I'm still thinking about.

message 7: by Patti (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Patti | 6 comments I agree with Danna - I usually read straight through, but then I go back over and over, reading slower, making notes, marking pages, finding the elements that make the story work. All of this of course,so that I can write better stories.

message 8: by Rob (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Rob McMonigal | 4 comments Depends on the book--most of the time, though, I read straight through.


message 9: by Renee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:15PM) (new)

Renee | 4 comments Hi Fran

I'm a quick reader also. But for short story collections, I like to read 2 or 3 stories at a time. I need time to think about what I read. I would probably read more if I was reading an anthology.

I'm reading The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories. It's been a month since I started and I'm half way through the book. These stories make me think!

message 10: by Jim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:15PM) (new)

Jim | 1 comments It's rare that I'll read two short stories in a sitting. If a story works on any level for me, I'll want to let it echo for a while, let it settle like a good meal.

And when I write stories, I'm trying to write something worth savoring, worth thinking about, worth getting over before moving on to the next.

message 11: by Clifford (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:15PM) (new)

Clifford (clifford_garstang) | 3 comments Short attention span here, so I probably won't move right on to the next story in a collection or a literary magazine. But I do like to keep making progress, measured in pages or number of stories, so I won't let much time pass -- a meal, an errand -- before I read the next one.

Unless I think the ending is killer, in which case I'll take some time to study it, and save it for a file of endings I keep (because endings are the hardest part).

message 12: by Renee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:17PM) (new)

Renee | 4 comments Fran

I agree! Short stories require more concentration because of their timeline - you don't want to miss anything because you only have one shot at it! (in comparison to novels where the story can slowly unfold)

I love Selected Shorts on NPR and I had the wonderful opportunity to "see" to Selected Shorts in NYC last year. It was fantastic! I felt these stories as well as heard them.

Has anyone here had the opportunity to see short stories read aloud?

message 13: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:17PM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) | 6 comments Sure, lots of times at readings. I have to admit I get impatient at readings -- too slow. Can't listen to audiobooks for the same reason.

message 14: by James (new)

James (jamesburford) I usually read one story at a time. It gives me a chance to think about the piece and turn it over in my head before I come back and read another. I've found that when I read stories back to back, they tend to lose some of their intensity.

message 15: by Jacob (last edited Jan 21, 2009 09:58AM) (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) I used to read a bunch of stories at once, finish the collection in two or three sittings, but after breezing through five or six stories at once in "Knockemstiff" by Donald Ray Pollock, I sorta felt like curling up on the bathroom floor and dying (it's a fantastic collection, just...take it in small doses). So I changed my habits. Read a few here and there after that, but starting this year I've been reading one or two short stories per day, slowly working through my library of story collections (88 collections, 1600+ stories--I counted). Currently working on "The Lottery and Other Stories" by Shirley Jackson and "Rust and Bone" by Craig Davidson. Both quite good so far.

message 16: by Alan (new)

Alan (takingsky) | 10 comments I agree with Jacob that 'Knockemstiff' does need to be read in small doses, others can be read straight through I think. I usually read two or three stories a day though and go back and re-read like many here.
The two collections I'm reading at the moment are Lise Erdrich's Night Train and Yannick Murphy's In a Bear's Eye - both highly recommended. The Lottery is on my to-read list and I'll add 'Rust & Bone' to that. Thanks Jacob.

message 17: by A.J. (new)

A.J. Rust and Bone is a pretty good collection, but it's one to take in small doses.

message 18: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) I've been taking it in small doses (a few of the reviews said to do just that), and the stories are turning out pretty good so far. Reminds me a bit of Thom Jones. You ever read Jones?

message 19: by Alan (new)

Alan (takingsky) | 10 comments Jacob wrote: "I've been taking it in small doses (a few of the reviews said to do just that), and the stories are turning out pretty good so far. Reminds me a bit of Thom Jones. You ever read Jones?

Yeh - The Pugilist at Rest. Great. For some reason I only gave it 4 stars on here, but I'll change that to 5's. I give a lot of 5s but then I seek out the best.

message 20: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) Alan wrote: "Yeh - The Pugilist at Rest. Great. For some reason I only gave it 4 stars on here, but I'll change that to 5's. I give a lot of 5s but then I seek out the best."

Check out "Cold Snap" and "Sonny Liston Was a Friend of Mine" --also quite good. I think I gave them all 4 stars, but I read them a few years ago and probably judged them differently. Anyway, they're becoming increasingly harder to find these days--probably close to going out of print, if not already. And he hasn't published anything new in ten years. Of course, there's only so much you can write about Vietnam and boxing before it gets old, but still, it makes me sad...

message 21: by Alan (new)

Alan (takingsky) | 10 comments Jacob wrote: "Alan wrote: "Yeh - The Pugilist at Rest. Great. For some reason I only gave it 4 stars on here, but I'll change that to 5's. I give a lot of 5s but then I seek out the best."

Check out "Cold Sna..."

Will do.

message 22: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) Andrew wrote: "Rust and Bone is a pretty good collection, but it's one to take in small doses."

Yeah, I just read "A Mean Utility," and now I know exactly what you mean!

message 23: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) Has anyone here read The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake?

message 24: by Alan (new)

Alan (takingsky) | 10 comments Jacob wrote: "Has anyone here read The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake?"

Yes, he's great. My goodreads comment (5 stars of course) -
fantastic writing, grim subject matter, the trials of working class people in a small rural town. A precursor to Carver but also more expansive. Would have been a great writer had he not committed suicide.

message 25: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 3 comments I agree with what David said about them containing so much. I have to take a break between each story. It's wonderful to be able to read something so intense in short bursts.

message 26: by Cathie (new)

Cathie (countrygarden) | 3 comments i have a collection of short story books that i like to read a story from now and then usually when i am in between other books. however, i have found that i forget what i've read and reread sometimes and that has been annoying. i have started to read the stories in order and mark which one i left off on. i was wondering if anyone has read the mystery collection they put together in honor of edgar allen poe? couldn't find it at BN yesterday.

message 27: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) You were right about Pancake; his stories were fantastic.

Have you read The Stories of J. F. Powers?
This is another amazing collection. I've only read a handful of stories so far, but it's already become a favorite. Every story contains some of the best writing I've seen anywhere, period.

message 28: by Alan (new)

Alan (takingsky) | 10 comments HI Jacob, no don't know Powers. Looks interesting - I'll add him to my wish list. Thanks, Alan

message 29: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Holborn (hannahholborn) | 2 comments I skip all over looking for the gems first, and based on the appeal of story titles and opening lines. If a story doesn't catch me right away, I'll switch to another, but always read the whole book in the end (unless the writing just doesn't do it for me). A great deal of thought goes into choosing story orders--it was about a six month process with two editors for my collection--so it's funny how many of us prefer to skip around!

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