While I thought that widespread Kindle ownership would lead to more people reading short stories I’m not sure it has. Do you, for example, (if you own a Kindle that is) read more short stories?
Whether you do or not, here are three recent short stories that are simple excellent and I highly recommend. (They are a bit mature. Nothing R-rated, but nothing below PG-13 either.)
1. The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado
This is a story I read in Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 2 but was originally published in Granta. It’s the (somewhat racy) story of a woman with a green ribbon tied around her throat as she meets and falls in love with her husband.
But like they say, the tale is in the telling, and Carmen Machado sure can tell a tale. The added notes spread throughout the story about how one should conduct oneself when reading the story out loud are great fun.
(If you are reading this story out loud, make the sound of the bed under the tension of train travel and lovemaking by straining a metal folding chair against its hinges. When you are exhausted with that, sing the half remembered lyrics of old songs to the person closest to you, thinking of lullabies for children.)
2. House Heart by Amelia Gray
Amelia Gray’s Gutshot is an amazing collection of short stories and this is one of my favorite stories from there. It tells the story of a couple who hire a call girl and instead of making love to her they convince her to squeeze into the house’s ventilation system through a grate.
It lies on the border of erotica and weird and it is just wonderful.
When my partner started to replace the grate, she made a whine of protest, but we explained that it would help us complete the game, and that we would be so pleased if she would help us finally achieve our goal as a couple, a romantic goal for which she would be well compensated, and finally she was silent and the grate was replaced. I handed my partner the tiny screws quickly and in silence.
3. This is Not a Wardrobe Door by A. Merc Rustad.
This is a play on the Narnia door in the wardrobe fantasy. It tells the story of a girl who wants to know why the door isn’t working. The girl writes cute letters to a Gatekeeper and through them we learn her story. On the other side of the door a hero is wondering why no one from the other side is coming to visit anymore.
It is a very well-written story and made me all Narnia-nostalgic. Just to be clear though, this is not Narnia fan-fiction. It is a story that plays well with the themes established in that type of fantasy and uses them to tell a deeper story.
Mom said she was sorry, she didn’t want to tell me to stop since it seemed so important, but she kept finding them in her closet.
I said I’d never put them there, but she didn’t believe me.
“We can’t go there again,” Mom said, “no one ever gets to go back!” and she stomped out of the kitchen and into the rain.
Has my mom been there? Why didn’t she ever tell me? Why did you banish her too?
What did we do so wrong we can’t come back?
I fully believe that all three writers; Carmen Maria Machado, Amelia Gray and E. Merc Rustad will be literary superstars soon. You heard it here first.
What about you? Have you read any great short stories recently?