Six of the best: stories in short fiction collections, 2012


One of those things about short stories is that they often seem a bit random. In any collection there will be stories you love more than the rest, and others that you find less satisfying. It’s about the variety. The range. And the weird thing is, your favourites probably won’t be the same as everyone else’s. It’s like boxes of chocolates – there’s always someone around who inexplicably likes marzipan or turkish delight, giving you have a chance to grab the caramel. But the odd thing I’ve noticed is this – with chocolates my taste is static, more or less, but with short story collections, it alters over time. So I’m making a note of my favourite stories in these books now, so that I can read them again in a few years and see whether or not I’d still pick the caramel.

  • My Mother Was An Upright Piano by Tania Hirshman — ‘Think of Icebergs’
  • Silver Threads of Hope, (ed. Sinead Gleeson)  — Kevin Barry’s ‘Supper Club’
  • Where Have You Been? by Joseph O’Connor — ‘Boyhood’s Fire’
  • Mother America by Nuala Ní Chonchúir — ‘When the Hearse Goes By’
  • The Exploding Boy by Nick Parker — ‘The Year of Weeping
  • Once You Break a Knuckle by DW Wilson — ‘Valley Echo’

If you’ve read any of these collections, I’d love to know which are your ‘bests’. Or feel free to nominate stories from other books, it will be like getting that map of all the chocolates to tell you where the good ones are hiding.


7 thoughts on “Six of the best: stories in short fiction collections, 2012

  1. Tania I’ve been enjoying your book but found it hard to single out a story. It may have helped that today it is freezing in Wales (frosted trees, the works, after a cold fog overnight) and the iceberg story is of course about a really hot day!


  2. The only one I can honestly cite is “The Dog” from Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle, because that’s one where I’ve read nearly all the stories. This year I’ve also bought collections by David Means, Tobias Wolff and John Cheever but I haven’t read enough stories from these new books to say which are their most outstanding stories. I’ve basically read one from each of those and they all seem to be excellent. You can hear some of their best stories on the New Yorker podcast or read them there online, which I imagine must be a bit of a problem for book sales.


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