Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged short stories

Widow: Stories

The collection of stories in Michelle Latiolais’ Widow pull at a common thread – shading, sketching, and putting together a picture of what it is like to walk the Earth as a woman who has lost her husband. While none of these women carry any outward signs of trauma, the lens through which each of them sees the world has shifted, leaving each of them off-kilter.

Best Bondage Erotica 2011

As the title would imply, this erotica anthology contains solely stories that involve bondage, the use of restraints for the purpose of sexual pleasure. Along with the use of bondage in sexual encounters comes the play of submissive and dominant roles. As one might expect, nearly half of stories in this book stick to standard dominate/submissive heterosexual roles, with men tying up women in various scenarios and then sexually dominating them.

Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry

Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry is a collection of short stories by Christine Sneed, the winner of the Grace Paley Prize in short fiction. The book is one of the most well-written, heartrending, and remarkably real collections I've ever read. Nothing is left to do after reading Sneed's collection except go back to read the same stories over again for their raw, hard, and gritty overwhelming of the senses.

The Vintage Book of American Women Writers

Anyone who has taken their share of English literature survey courses will tell you that the women considered great enough to be included within the literary canon are few to be found, as women writers have been marginalized throughout history. Even today, the title “great American novelist” is one that has yet to be bestowed upon a woman, and many women writers whose work has literary significance find their work disregarded as "chick lit." The Vintage Book of American Women Writers helps to give women their due. The 848-page book traces the history of women writers in America, beginning with Anne Bradford, the first woman to be published in Puritan America, and ending with such contemporary writers as Amy Tan and Jhumpa Lahiri.

The Woman with the Bouquet

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt was been described as one of Europe’s most beloved authors and just a few pages into the first of the five short stories that comprise The Woman with the Bouquet, I began to seriously doubt that claim. Initially, “The Dreamer from Ostend” seemed heavy-handed and awkward in its formality, so much in fact that I found it difficult to focus on the story. However, I trudged forward, and I’m happy that I did.

Best Lesbian Romance 2010

This is a light, sweet collection of short stories featuring women in love with women. I'm thoroughly impressed by the diversity of the stories' characters. Each story is very different from the next. I read about the lives of queer teenagers, figure skater dykes, gay cattle ranchers, and butches racing their cars. There were women of different ages, races, and personalities. There was even a story with vampires and shapeshifters. Some characters were traveling.

The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti

Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell's collection of short stories, The Company of Heaven, is an unkind narrative of Haiti and Haitians. It is unkind in the way one can be unkind when recalling a sibling’s awkward puberty or seeing for the first time, the humiliation of a parent by a stranger in a public place. She is unkind to her Haitians and yet she remains a family member, intimately invested and loyal. It is difficult to like even one of her characters, however, it is even more difficult to look away from them.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modern Bestiary

I met bestselling author David Sedaris in 2008 at a Barnes and Noble book-signing event for When You Are Engulfed In Flames. While he seemed more than a little uncomfortable with the kind of feigned intimacy such an event requires, he was still charming, professional, and idiosyncratic throughout our brief encounter. He asked me if I liked turtles, as he set about doodling a smiling cartoon turtle on the title page.

Horse, Flower, Bird: Stories

Full of self-pity and self-loathing, Kate Bernheimer’s stories in Horse, Flower, Bird are not all of what being a girl is about. This is essential to remember, because fairytales, for all their unnecessarily flowery language and lurid fantasy, taught us all who to be. Fairytales, like the more adult fables, are instructional devices; stay away from the woods, do not talk to strangers, truth and love will prevail… As corny as they always are, they imbue us with an elementary moral compass. It was their function and their rationale, it is why parents allow their children to watch Sleeping Beauty a million times into the wee hours of the night. However Bertheimer's fairytales, while unconventional and enticing, do not convey any distinct moral messages. They are enchanting stories, but not fairytales; there is nothing to be learned from them. They are simply fantastical.

In the Time of the Girls

When do you stop being a girl? When do you start? And, perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be a girl? These questions are necessary ingredients in order to fully ingest Anne Germanacos’ debut work, In the Time of the Girls. An exploration of history and individual experience, the book forsakes the traditional plot-driven narrative for a collection of short stories which themselves are a mosaic of prose and dialogue infused vignettes, each individually titled.

Cold Snap: Bulgaria Stories

There is hardly anything more satisfying to read than well-crafted short stories. Cynthia Morrison Phoel’s debut collection of tales from Bulgaria intertwines the stories of several families living in fictional Old Mountain, many sharing a concrete post-Communist apartment building, neighbors in crumbling plaster houses; and often, surviving similar struggles in their attempts to find love and meaning in life and to escape the poverty they have always known.

Small Displacements

This tiny, obscure (I am the only person as of this writing to add and review it on Goodreads) volume of short stories by England native and Ohio resident writer Vanessa Furse Jackson ties together eleven tales into a loose theme: sudden changes in someone's life, whether major or minor, and the resulting shift felt afterward. Most of the stories are overtly sad, with others having just undercurrents of a sort of foreshadowed melancholy with abrupt endings.

Her America: “A Jury of Her Peers” and Other Stories

Popular in her own time, Susan Glaspell has somewhat fallen out of favor in contemporary academic circles while other American writers of realist fiction such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Willa Cather have enjoyed more attention.

The Thing Around Your Neck

My friend Francine, who sensibly chose to read English at Cambridge, knowing my insatiable appetite for novels, asked me to taste and see that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was good five years ago. I devoured Purple Hibiscus. Sated and ravenous, I only halfheartedly digested Half of a Yellow Sun, because I felt that it did not reflect the brilliance of the first novel—maybe precisely because Purple Hibiscus could not be matched at all in the way it presented the fragrance, colour, and texture of Nigeria.

Secret Weirdo

Well, for a twenty-page minicomic that is filled with embarrassing stories about childhood, cat police, imaginary adventures, and an opening page offering “free hugs,” artist Lauren Barnett definitely set herself up for a difficult task. One of her biggest pet peeves as a female artist is having her comics be called cute.

Ether: Seven Stories and a Novella

While opening Evgenia Citkowitz’ collection of short stories, the spine creaked in an eerie way far too appropriate for the haunting words among the pages between.

I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World

I'll tell you why I bothered picking up I Am an Emotional Creature: (1) I loved the graffiti-like cover, which reminded me of the doodling I used to pen over my books in high school, and (2) I really respect and enjoy Eve Ensler's writing.

Alone With You: Stories

For years, I read The New Yorker for the politics and music reviews more than for its fiction.

The Prospect of Magic

The Prospect of Magic, a collection of ten stories, sets up a wonderful world where the real and magical live side by side. It’s enchanting. Some of the stories are hopeful, some are tragic, and some are sad, just like real life. All of them feature flights of fancy, just like the best magic trick. The story centers around Fluker, Louisiana, where the World Famous Ploofop Travelling Circus decides to stay after its owner, Abidail Ploofop, dies.

Tillie Olsen: One Woman, Many Riddles

Part of Panthea Reid’s title seems to allude to Tillie Olsen’s 1961 collection of short stories, Tell Me a Riddle. It also seems to highlight the layers of complexity in a woman hailed as an iconic writer and feminist. Reid doesn’t idealize Olsen.

Philosophy: An Innovative Introduction: Fictive Narrative, Primary Texts, and Responsive Writing

I was interested in Philosophy: An Innovative Introduction because I so thoroughly enjoyed Steven Church’s Theoretical Killings.

From the Hilltop

After I read this collection of a dozen stunning stories, I sadly realized that I could count on one hand the number of Native American authors with whom I am familiar. I might pride myself on my awareness that Native Americans live diverse ways of life, just as other ethnic groups, and that the indigenous peoples of the Americas are incredibly diverse in their traditions.

Trailer Girl: And Other Stories

One of my favorite short story collections of all time is Black Tickets, a masterpiece written by Jayne Anne Phillips in the 1970s. So hauntingly poetic and impressive were these stories written about rootless misfits by a young and relatively unknown writer that a giant of the short story genre, Raymond Carver, contributed a blurb to the book’s back cover. He wrote: “These stories of America’s disenfranchised are unlike any in our literature.


The first impression upon commencing Herta Müller’s collection of semi-autobiographical short stories Nadirs is one that is characterized by a child’s hybridized view of a world which is intensely real and also hauntingly and disconcertingly surreal.

Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman’s Journey Toward Independence

A collection of one novella and a handful of short stories, Year in the Elephant is a translation from Arabic that does a great job of painting life in Morocco prior to and after independence from the French colonial power.

4:Play: A Contemporary Cocktail of Erotic Short Stories

4:Play: A Contemporary Cocktail of Erotic Short Stories, is a compilation of short erotic stories designed to whip its readers into an erotic frenzy. This goal is only mildly achieved. Jess C.

The Southern Woman

I grew up in the so-called New South, where there are sweet tea and skyscrapers, Gone with the Wind screenings in posh movie theaters, and Faulkner reading groups, but no stereotypical southern drawl and no cornbread. In an age where regional identity yields to interstates and chain hotels, can I still call myself a southern woman? After reading Elizabeth Spencer’s collection of short stories, I think I can. Spencer’s South is not just a location; it is a kind of voice, a way of thinking and of speaking.

Lesbian Cowboys: Erotic Adventures

Lesbian Cowboys: Erotic Adventures is a collection of fifteen short stories that, as promised, feature lesbian cowboys. On average, the stories run approximately fourteen pages or so, which results in the feeling that there is not much in the way of plot or character development.

All That Work and Still No Boys

In All That Work and Still No Boys, Kathryn Ma writes short stories with one thing in common: the Chinese American experience in California. This book is not for those who like conventional storytelling. Each chapter is the story of a person or family, sometimes related to another person or family in the book and sometimes not at all.

War Dances

In War Dances, Sherman Alexie’s new collection of stories and poems, we encounter characters attempting to come to terms with the challenges that life tends to throw at us in the contemporary world. The first story of the collection, “Breaking and Entering,” is about a Native American man who accidentally kills a Black teenager after the teenager broke into his house.