Back in 2014 and 2015, I picked a group of short stories that are available online. It’s been over a year since I’ve done something like this, but want to do it more often. Here are five short stories from five different literary journals and reviews.
“Spiderweb” by Mariana Enriquez (The New Yorker)
Enriquez’ stories are vibrant depictions of South America filled with dynamic characters. This is a story about a deteriorating couple going on a road trip to Paraguay. During the story, their relationship is tested further. It’s a prime introduction to the morose underpinnings of her fiction that seeps into the forefront. Her 2016 collection was translated into English as Things We Lost in the Fire (February 21, 2017, Hogarth) and is filled with some of the best stories I’ve read recently.
“The Mourners” by Chanelle Benz (Recommended Reading on Electric Literature)
Chanelle Benz’ collection, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead (out now, Ecco), is filled with ten district voices from wide-ranging periods of time. “The Mourners” is about loss and, well, morning in the late 1800s. It’s a good story, but it is Benz’ control of language and voice that makes her a must-read. I will never stop telling people to read her. Try this one out for size before rushing out to by her collection.
“Ravalushan” by Mohammed Naseehu Ali (BOMB)
This story is collected in the Junot Diaz edited The Best American Short Stories: 2016 (Mariner), and is a harrowing exploration into the carnage Ali witnessed in Ghana as a young boy. It’s about the psychological damage, not the physical, that can overcome someone witnessing such horrific events. He also recently wrote an essay called “My Muslim Father’s Faith in America” for The New Yorker in October 2016, which is an excellent showcase of Ali’s writing.
“Zamboni” by Rebecca Makkai (Tin House)
I want to gush over Tin House for a sentence (or two): these guys are publishing some of the best stories right now. The Winter Reading (#70) issue featured Jo Ann Beard’s amazing “The Tomb of Wrestling,” which isn’t available online. However, Makkai’s “Zamboni” is available and you should read it right now. The writer takes an earnest concept and explores the subtle nuances with striking prose and sharp characters. If you like this, definitely check out her 2015 collection Music for Wartime (Viking).
“Naugahyde” by Gordon Lish (Granta)
Gordon Lish was the fiction editor at Esquire, an editor for Knopf, and was always a champion for some of the most influential writers of the past half-century. This short story, which will appear in his forthcoming collection entitled White Plains: Pieces and Witherings (July 1, 2017, Little Island Press), is a peculiarly styled one. It’s all he said/she said. Sincerely. The story is an exploration between two people’s truths, lies, wants, and desires through only the use of dialogue.