Favorites Friday: Short Story Collections

I haven’t done a Favorites Friday for a while, what with NaNo and other features, so I thought I’d come back to that for this week.  Today, let’s look at a different-than-usual medium, and talk about short stories.  I don’t read a LOT of short stories, but there are a few collections near to my heart.

To start with an author I’m pretty sure I’ve never mentioned–I love O. Henry’s short stories.  I had a habit in high school: if I finished my book during school, I’d run to the library between classes and pick up an O. Henry book for the rest of the day.  Because I couldn’t be bookless for three hours!  I have no particular favorite collection, but O. Henry in general is excellent.  I always enjoy his twist endings–even when you’re expecting them, he still surprises.

MerlinDreams1Merlin Dreams by Peter Dickinson is a book I’ve reviewed before.  It was a beloved favorite at the library through my childhood, and I finally bought it myself last year.  He tells semi-Arthurian stories about love and loss and honor and falling prey to your own tricks, all in a frame story about Merlin sleeping through the centuries somewhere below the moor.  The stories are haunting, with characters and ideas that have woven themselves into my mind.  And I about fell off my chair when I realized that Robin McKinley was married to Peter Dickinson–the Dickinson of Merlin Dreams!  And that’s definitely how I thought of him… 🙂

An author I often talk about 🙂 is L. M. Montgomery, so you must have expected she’d be here too!  She’s best known now for her novels, but she also wrote hundreds of short stories.  I’ve read 199, all of the ones presently available.  My favorite collection is The Road to Yesterday, with three of my favorite Montgomery short stories.  “Fancy’s Fool” is about dreamy Esme, who long ago went into a secret part of a garden and met a ghost boy she can’t forget.  “The Cheated Child” is about Pat Brewster, who must choose which of an awful assortment of relatives he’s going to live with…until one day he breaks free and finds himself at beautiful Sometyme Farm.  “Fool’s Errand” is about Lincoln Brewster, who reckons he’d better get married but dreads the thought–and ends up going in search of a girl he met on a beach one long ago day in his childhood.  With the possible exception of Esme’s story, these aren’t fantasies–but they’re magical.

Book of EnchantmentsMore directly magical, I so enjoy Patricia C. Wrede’s Book of Enchantments (my review here), with fantasy stories that are funny or sad, traditional or modern, silly or profound.  And yet somehow, they all fit together too.  There are even two excellent short stories connected to her truly excellent Enchanted Forest quartet–which is such a treat for fans!

I’m open to reading more short stories, so…any recommendations?

6 thoughts on “Favorites Friday: Short Story Collections

  1. Haha, the first thing I thought of when I saw Peter Dickinson at the top of this post was, “Hey, that guy’s married to Robin McKinley!” You may want to check out their collaborative collections of short stories, Water and Fire. Both are subtitled “Tales of Elemental Spirits,” and they contain short fantasy stories from both Dickinson and McKinley. I must say, though, I like her stories much better than his!

  2. O ‘Henry is among my favorite authors.. I love his stories.. I have to read L.M. Montgomery’s stories as well.. am going to try the others mentioned on your post as well by Carl..

  3. I’d want that Merlin Dreams collection simply for the Alan Lee illustrations. That man’s artwork moves me like few others. It is so rich with emotion.

    I haven’t thought of O’Henry for a long time but I loved those stories in elementary and junior high school, and have occasionally read some as an adult and they are just so good.

    I love L.M. Montgomery but have yet to read any of her short stories.

    As for suggestions, Peter S. Beagle’s collection, A Sleight of Hand, is brilliant. Such a marvelous book. I have an extra copy if you’d like me to send one your way, just email me your address.

    Staying on a fantasy bent, I enjoy Patricia A. McKillip’s short stories, and Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu is another elegant, excellent collection of short stories with to die for illustrations by Charles Vess.

    1. The illustrations are definitely a big part of Merlin Dreams–there so beautiful, and I think contribute to the haunting quality of the stories.

      You should definitely read some L. M. Montgomery short stories! She has such a distinctive style and setting, so if you like the novels, I’m sure you’ll like the stories. The quality varies in some of the collections (she wrote for the money at times), but if you start with Road to Yesterday or Chronicles of Avonlea you’ll do pretty well. I also like Among the Shadows, which theoretically is much darker…and kind of is, but still very much in LMM’s usual style.

      Thanks for the offer on Beagle’s collection! I looked it up on Amazon and it looks so intriguing…I’ll email you. 🙂

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