Short Stories And Microfiction: A Thread

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

Liity LibraryThingin jäseneksi, niin voit kirjoittaa viestin.

Short Stories And Microfiction: A Thread

maaliskuu 10, 3:05 am

So I've been reading a lot of short stories lately and have even more stacked on my Kobo reader. Thought it might be fun to have a thread to share them. No idea if anybody else will be interested, but do feel free to jump in!

I'll start with a ressource I discovered last month:'s Short Fiction Spotlight features a monthly selection of Must Read Short Speculative Fiction. I just received the February installment and started by reading The Books Would Like a Word by Cynthia Gómez. I have to confess I tend to mentally roll my eyes when I hear about books (or stories) about books. But this one was pretty cool, and I think I'll even write down some names for further research.

I look forward to reading the rest of the selection. Last month, all except two of the stories featured were available for free reading. I liked almost all of them even if none really stood out, but mostly I enjoyed the experience of discovering authors and magazines I knew nothing about, and reading short fiction.

maaliskuu 10, 9:41 am

Is this a communal thread you are making or a personal thread for you to document just your reading. I wasn't sure.

If it is the former, I would be happy to cross post my reviews of short fiction. I have an awful lot in the piles, both single author collection and multi-author anthologies.

Currently, I'm reading Journeys by Iain R. MacLeod, one of my very favorite fantasy/magical realism authors. When I get caught up with an author I like—most of the time—to read all of their work, or as much as I can.

What I have waiting in the nearest to-hand book shelf:

The Granta Book of the African Short Story ed. Helon Habla
Moss Witch and Other Stories by Sarah Maitland
Album Zutique : No. 1. edit by Jeff Vandermeer
The New Dark Age: Collected Stories by Joan London
Driving the Heart & Other Stories by Jason Brown

(some of these have been sampled a bit..)

maaliskuu 10, 10:42 am

Absolutely a communal thread, sorry I didn’t make that clear!

maaliskuu 10, 11:06 am

>3 FlorenceArt: That's what I thought...but wanted to be sure :-)

The hubby (dukedom_enough) reads a lot of short fiction from the SF zines (which he still gets in paper) but also other short fiction from online sources on his tablet and now some on the new Kobo .... I'll see if he might find a bit of time to come over and contribute.

maaliskuu 11, 5:58 am

Great idea! I only read a short story collection from time to time, but when I do I will remember to post about it here.

maaliskuu 11, 7:06 am

>2 avaland: I wishlisted The Granta Book of the African Short Story. One of the books I currently have under way is Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism And Beyond and this has made me realize how little I have read from black people, from Africa, America or elsewhere.

maaliskuu 11, 10:21 am

This is a great idea for a thread. I want to try and shoehorn more short fiction into my reading. I thought I would start by listing my favorite collections (4* or more).

Single author collections:
Children of the Holocaust by Arnošt Lustig
Short Stories of Mark Twain ("The Diaries of Adam and Eve" is hysterical)
Say you're one of them by Uwem Akpan
The road by Vassily Grossman
Talking to the Enemy by Avner Mandelman
The Wedding of Zein and Other Stories by Tayeb Salih
The complete tales of Nikolai Gogol
The call of the wild, White Fang, The sea-wolf, 40 short stories by Jack London ("To Light a Fire" is one of my all-time favorites)
The Complete Prose Tales of Alexandr Sergeyevitch Pushkin

The Crazy iris and other stories of the atomic aftermath edited by Kenzaburō Ōe
Great Soviet short stories edited by F. D. Reeve

Runner's up:
Twenty stories by Turkish women writers by Nilüfer Mizanoğlu Reddy
A good man is hard to find and other stories by Flannery O'Connor
Stories from the vinyl cafe by Stuart McLean

>6 FlorenceArt: I am going to try and get a copy of The Granta Book of the African Short Story.

maaliskuu 11, 10:25 am

>7 labfs39: Oh no, more books to check out! (Tries to look away and fails).

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 11, 10:28 am

I Left My Heart In Skaftafell, by Victor Lavalle
In Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism And Beyond
I really liked the beginning, but after a while I noticed that the writing was a bit heavy handed. Then about two thirds in I began to think it was too long. And then it went downhill. The last third was pretty bad. What a shame.

maaliskuu 11, 10:40 am

>1 FlorenceArt: Many thanks for that link!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 13, 2:33 pm

Here are the collections I've read (including some fiction magazines) read over the past 10 years or so. I generally have two or three short story collections going at a time, which I read through gradually. I have left out a few that I didn't find particularly enjoyable. I have a few more anthologies I'm in the midst of. I'll add those as I finish them. Just as an fyi, there is a Short Stories LT group, though it is mostly moribund at this point, though there are two or three of us still adding posts there. However, folks might enjoy going back through some of those old threads to get reading ideas, I guess:

The Best American Short Stories 1957 edited by Martha Foley *
The Arbor House Treasury of Great Western Stories edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin Harry Greenberg
The Best Short Stories of 1931 edited by Edward J. O'Brien *
The Year's Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy: Second Annual Volume edited by Judith Merril (1957)

Single Author Collections
Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin *
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin *
Adventures of Captain David Grief by Jack London
Creek Walk and Other Stories by Molly Giles *
Tierra del Fuego by Francisco Coloane *
Selected Short Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer (Modern Library) *
Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger
The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan *

The New Yorker Magazine Fiction Issue - December 28, 1998 & January 4, 1999
Manhunt Detective Story Monthly, January, 1953 edited by John McCloud
Short Story International: Volume 3, Number 15 edited by Sylvia Tankel
The New Yorker 1999 Summer Fiction Issue: 20 Writers for the 21st Century
The New Yorker Magazine Fiction Issue, December 2006
The New Yorker 1994 Fiction Issue

* Particularly good

maaliskuu 13, 6:26 pm

I’d like to read some good microfiction.

maaliskuu 14, 1:55 am

So would I, Diane. I'm reading Best Microfiction 2021 and so far it's not an unforgettable experience, but I did leave a few bookmarks already. I'll have to revisit them after I've finished the book.

I thought the three stories here were pretty good:

maaliskuu 14, 12:25 pm

How is microfiction different from a short story? I looked it up and various sources said it was between 50 and 1,000 words (1,000 the low end of a short story), but still included plot and character revelation/development. Is microfiction always prose?

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 14, 12:39 pm

>15 nohrt4me2: They are all stories so they are always prose. If they are poetry, they are... poetry :)

Microfiction is usually considered a subset of flash fiction which is a subset of short fiction. If you go as high as 1,000 words, you are in flash fiction territory IMO - the highest I had seen for microfiction is ~500 words although some definitions go for 300.

At the end, each editor makes their own restrictions usually - but the 1,000 for flash fiction is kinda established well enough. And then of course some places use microfiction and flash fiction as synonyms.

There are also dribbles (50 words), drabbles (usually exactly 100 words) and the good old term of sudden fiction (which is a bit shorter than flash usually and tops at 750).

Confused yet? :)

maaliskuu 14, 12:40 pm

>1 FlorenceArt: So are novelettes and novellas welcome here or are we only dealing with the shorter of the short fiction categories? :)

maaliskuu 14, 3:16 pm

>16 AnnieMod: No, that all seems clear, even at my advanced age. Thank you.

maaliskuu 14, 3:24 pm

>17 AnnieMod: My personal preference would be no novelettes, novellas, novellinas, whatever ;-)
But I don’t want to impose undue restrictions, so if you feel strongly that one of the above fits in, why not?

maaliskuu 14, 3:32 pm

>16 AnnieMod: I wanted to include flash fiction in the thread title but I felt it would be redundant, and that microfiction may be a clearer concept. I had no idea there were such precise definitions, though I suppose that makes sense.

My personal idea, or rather what I personally like about flash or micro fiction, is when it gets close to poetry. And don’t ask me what I mean because it’s just a feeling. I first became aware of the concept of flash fiction through the books of David Shumate, which are actually described as prose poems. So I guess that shows how confused about the whole thing I probably am :-)

maaliskuu 14, 3:58 pm

>18 nohrt4me2:

Apologies if I sounded a bit flippant - it is just that any fiction editor out there seem to have their own ideas where to draw the lines and outside of the very well defined formats as the drabble and somewhat defined flash fiction, things can be a bit murky... Thus the "confused yet?" (or "clear as mud" as I usually say).

>19 FlorenceArt: >20 FlorenceArt:

So where do we draw the line - at 7,500 words (as the speculative awards do) or at 10,000 words (as most/some of the literary journals do)? Just out of curiosity and because I tend to look for lengths. I get the idea though - we want the short ones. :)

I am a short story junkie (or used to be anyway - not much lately but as with all of my reading, it comes in phases).

Prose poems are a different but related thing in a way - they sit somewhere between poetry and fiction and where they land depends on the author and sometimes the editor or the reviewer. I don't mind genre bending in my reading my form bending like that gets me all confused. And not all short stories are poetical - some are just... short.

A few of my usual go-tos when I want a very short story: - Science Fiction, no big names - Speculative, always short, some of them from the big names of the genre; subscribe and it will land in your mailbox Monday-Friday and you can read them when you feel like it.

Somewhere I have a long list of bookmarks with short fiction venues and magazines. I need to track that down.

maaliskuu 14, 4:27 pm

>21 AnnieMod: Thank you for the links!

maaliskuu 14, 5:04 pm

>22 FlorenceArt: Some more: - one of the pioneers of flash fiction; still going strong - Nature used to have these in the magazine, then kicked them out and now they are online only. One story per week. Always very short. Almost always good SF. - these can be pulpy and different but I tend to like them - usually very literary

Book Riot did a round up of the best stories online a few years ago - and each story leads to its site and there are more in most: - I don't agree with all their choices but the links are what counts here.

Want to go very short? - the UI is... weird but the stories are short - 50 and 100 words short. :)

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 14, 5:44 pm

I appreciate the info, but some short narrative poems, e.g., Browning's "My Last Duchess", seem within range of microfiction. Or Oscar Wilde's "prose poems."

Microfiction, if we're just going by word count + plot and character revelation/development, sounds like something that has been around for a long time, just under a new name.

So I was trying to tease out what's new here.

Carry on.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 14, 6:35 pm

Has anyone looked into George Saunders’ story club? Possibly of interest to LT members interested in short short stories. I subscribed but am not a paying member and have not had time to research. Perhaps someone here knows of it? I think it’s more for writers. Still, one never knows.

maaliskuu 19, 12:16 am

>25 kjuliff: I've been a member of Story Club since day 1—even have a nice Story Club two-headed dog t-shirt. Saunders is a great instructor and the community is really wonderful. I don't consider myself a writer of fiction, but I am a writer and a lot of the discussions really hit home anyway. Plus you never know... maybe I'll pick up some knowledge and inspiration will hit.

I read a lot of short fiction—I'm one of the judges for Library Journal's best short story collections of the year—but have no bandwidth to list favorites just this moment. I'll be back, though.

(Anyone here read One Story magazine? It's a great source of new stories, one story/one author at a time.)

maaliskuu 19, 12:25 am

>26 lisapeet: I even reviewed one of them this year (I’ve been a subscriber for a long time, reading them is a different thing…)

maaliskuu 20, 8:17 am

Just finished a wonderful collection by Scottish author Ian R. MacLeod titled Journeys, a collection of some of his short stories published in the SF&F 'zines.
McLeod is a favorite author of mine. His work is intelligent, beautifully written, and a joy to read.

maaliskuu 20, 8:58 am

>26 lisapeet: and >27 AnnieMod: I love this idea, but unfortunately they don’t seem to have an electronic version apart from Kindle.

>28 avaland: This sounds really tempting. I am now adding to my wishlist at an alarming rate.

maaliskuu 22, 8:23 am

This thread is a terrific idea! I've been getting into short stories for a while now.

I'm currently working my way through 100 Creepy Little Creature Stories as a between book, and I get the Tor emails, as well, though I'm way behind on reading them. Plus, I'm doing a year-long read of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short stories through Letters from Watson.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 8:46 am

Some reviews of stories from 100 Creepy Little Creature Stories, cross posted from my main thread:

Father’s Vampire by Len Moffatt and Alvin Taylor: I quite enjoyed it, and rated it 4 stars.

"The Feather Pillow (El almohadón de plumas)" by Horacio Quiroga, translated from the Spanish in 1976: I did not enjoy or think highly of this at all. My notes for this one read "dumb. All tell no show. No characterization, so no investment in fate of characters. 1.5 only because it wasn’t actively offensive." It's possible that some of this is the fault of the translation. But quite frankly, I doubt I'd have thought any more highly of it were I able to read it in the original Spanish.

The Fisherman’s Special by H. L. Thomson, on the other hand, I noted was "not bad" and "entertaining enough" despite the predictable ending, and rated a solid 3 stars.

"The Frog" by Granville S Hoss: 3 stars. According to my notes, "not too long. Prose is fine. Ending imagery is creepy."

"Frogfather" by Manly Wade Wellman: 3.5 stars. I enjoyed this one. I noted that it had "good prose" and "good characterization." The plot and ending were also satisfying. I probably would have rated this one a full 4 stars out of 5, if not for the fact that Wellman's use of the Wise Native trope detracted from my enjoyment some.

"The Gargoyle Sacrifice" by Tina L Jens: 2.5 stars. In this case, the rating says more about me and my personal taste than the quality of the story. I was very excited to see a woman author, as the editors of this collection seem to favor men. This is a more modern story than many in the collection, written in 1994. Jens did a good job of establishing character and setting, especially in so short a story. That takes real skill and effort. The story is well plotted and well written. There isn't anything actually wrong with it, per se. But it is not my type of story at all, and I did enjoy reading it. I was uncomfortable the whole way through. In my notes, I described it as "sordid," "grimy," and "grubby." Many horror fans will likely enjoy this a lot, but I'm not one of them.

"Ghouls of the Sea" by J. B. S. Fullilove: 3.5 stars. As far as I can tell from some cursory googling, this is the only piece of fiction the author ever published, which is a shame. This story did not create narrative transport, due to the now-archaic, stilted prose style, but in a story like this, I actually prefer that. This way, I can read the whole thing without getting freaked out. I can't watch or read modern zombie stuff, but the level of detachment and lack of verisimilitude in a story like this makes it safe for me to enjoy. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it works for me.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 24, 10:38 am

Two very different short stories that I didn't think I liked at first and then changed my mind.

A short story from the February list at
The Monologue of a Moon Goddess in the Palace of Pervasive Cold by Anja Hendrikse Liu
I wasn't sure what to make of this at first, probably because I'm not familiar with the tradition it refers to. But it grew on me, and after skimming through it a second time I think I like it.

And this one is from Granta magazine. I subscribe to their rss feed, but I don't check it very often and usually manage to miss their posts, which is a shame.
Husband Number Five by Emily Adrian
I didn't think I would like this one at first, but I was wrong, I ended up loving it. The writing is light and humorous and the lovable characters in this not unhappy slice in the life of a dysfunctional family worked for me.

maaliskuu 24, 4:48 pm

>32 FlorenceArt: Husband Number 5 was very entertaining!

maaliskuu 25, 2:11 pm

I just finished a reread (for my book group) of A Manual for Cleaning Women, a collection of heartbreaking but breathtaking stories by Lucia Berlin. My review is on my CR thread. I recommend this collection highly enough.

huhtikuu 4, 2:37 pm

Another one from Granta. A weird one. I liked it.
Acid Permanent

huhtikuu 4, 4:22 pm

>35 FlorenceArt: That is delightfully weird.

huhtikuu 6, 10:21 pm

huhtikuu 7, 10:39 am

>35 FlorenceArt: I liked the noticing of random things, eg, the nurse's ear wax, that seemed to mean nothing but had significance for the narrator and her son who understands her. We're not privy to their view of the world, but we can still sense the bond of mother and Earl, and the sense of grief over the fractured family.

huhtikuu 12, 11:55 am

Just finished a collection of short stories(many would probably qualify being short-shorts) by the Finnish author Rosa Liksom. I read previously her novels Compartment No. 6: and The Colonel's Wife and liked both. Her stories were intriguing (once I settled into reading length). I haven't written a review yet, but her stories are not for everyone, I think, due to some content. I winced more than a few times.

huhtikuu 17, 2:21 pm

The list of Must Read Short Speculative Fiction: February 2023 was a disappointment. Most of the stories were from paid magazines that could not be bought individually in electronic form, so I didn't read them. The rest was mostly disappointing.

The list contained a short story from Hexagon issue 12, which is not only free but available in ePub format, so I downloaded it and I just finished it. It's pretty short with one poem (not my style) and four stories, all with a definitely gloomy outlook on our future. Two of them were worth the effort, They Come To Return Home by Elou Carroll and The Loneliness of Water by Lyndsey Croal. I didn't finish the one recommended in the list, a not particularly well written rehashing of old clichés. Obviously Alex Brown felt differently though, so your mileage may vary. It's supposed to get "even better" toward the end.

toukokuu 28, 5:33 am

I just read a very powerful short story by Elizabeth Bear:
"Covenant" in The Long List Anthology 1
Originally published in Hieroglyph: Stories And Visions for a Better Future
Very well written and manages to raise a lot of questions about crime and responsibility and bio-engineering.

I have read another short story by Bear in Some of the Best of 2021, The Red Mother (this link leads to the story on I liked it, it started like a very traditional fantasy tale but the ending was unexpected.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 4, 9:38 am

Judge Dee and the Three Deaths of Count Werdenfels
By Lavie Tidhar
In Some of the best of 2021

No, not that Judge Dee, although this is obviously either an homage or a subtle parody, I'm not sure which. Either way I liked it, it has the right balance of seriousness and humor for me, all subtle and low-key. And apparently it's a sort of series on the website, there will be more to enjoy later. The "original" Judge Dee (the one by Robert van Gulik) is not for me, but I liked this one.

kesäkuu 4, 9:32 am

Some more brief reviews of short stories from 100 Creepy Little Creature Stories:

"The Gray Wolf" by George MacDonald (1864): left me wanting to know more, including what was going on. I noted that it would have worked better as a TV episode or short film than it did as a short story - the story struck me as better suited to visual media than prose. Additionally, the prose style of this one was not for me. Not bad, though. 3 stars

"The Green-and-Gold Bug" by J. M. Alvey (1924): The thing that struck me the most with this one was the weird tone, which read almost more like someone telling a joke than a story. The last paragraph, especially, reads like a punch line. I also noted the abrupt ending. The dialogue is stilted and bizarre. Also, whole thing is obviously and inescapably racist. 2 stars

"The House on the Rynek" by Dermot Chesson Spence (1936): This one was difficult for me review and rate in the way that stories that unexpectedly touch on personal subjects often are. Overall, the prose style works for me. The story is immersive and achieved narrative transport. The creature bit is weird, and it took me a few reads of that paragraph to understand what was being described as happening, but that's not that uncommon for me with weird fiction. The frame is very, very thin, and could stand to be more substantial, but that was not a huge drawback.

As to the role that antisemitism played in the story and how it was handled, my feelings are much more mixed. On the whole, the subject seemed to be treated pretty respectifully. On the other hand, the use of a murdered Jew as plot device in this type of story is uncomfortable at best, espeically from a gentile author, especially in 1936. The way the plot resolves also complicates matters. No star rating on this one.

"I'll Be Glad When I'm Dead" by Charles King (1946): My notes for this one were "fun. Enjoyed story. Narrative voice fit content. No real depth or anything, but a nice bit of fun without any real detractions. 3.5 stars."

"Indigestion" by Barry N. Malzberg (1977): This one was not for me. I didn't like it at all. My issues were not with writing, story structure, or prose quality, but simply personal taste. 1 star

"The Inn" by Rex Ernest (1937): fine little story. Nothing to dislike, but nothing special either. Ending was predicatable. 3 stars.