I hope you enjoyed, White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar, the February 2022 selection for our Facebook Book Club. If you did, maybe you’ll also like something from this list of short story collections featuring intricately tangled relationships.
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
With raw, poetic ferocity, Kimberly King Parsons exposes desire’s darkest hollows—those hidden places where most of us are afraid to look. In this debut collection of enormously perceptive and brutally unsentimental short stories, Parsons illuminates the ache of first love, the banality of self-loathing, the scourge of addiction, the myth of marriage, and the magic and inevitable disillusionment of childhood.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
In his second collection, Raymond Carver establishes his reputation as one of the most celebrated and beloved short-story writers in American literature—a haunting meditation on love, loss, and companionship, and finding one’s way through the dark.
Grand Union by Zadie Smith
Interleaving eleven completely new and unpublished stories with some of her best-loved pieces from The New Yorker and elsewhere, Smith presents a dizzyingly rich and varied collection of fiction. Moving exhilaratingly across genres and perspectives, from the historic to the vividly current to the slyly dystopian, Grand Union is a sharply alert and prescient collection about time and place, identity and rebirth, the persistent legacies that haunt our present selves and the uncanny futures that rush up to meet us.
What Counts as Love by Marian Crotty
In these nine stories, Marian Crotty inhabits the lives of people searching for human connection. Her characters, most often young women, are honest, troubled, and filled with longing. In the title story, a young woman begins a job on a construction site after leaving an abusive marriage. In “Crazy for You,” two girls spy on a neighbor’s sex life, while their own sexuality hovers in the distance. In “A Real Marriage,” a college student marries a boyfriend to help him stay in the United States. In “The Fourth Fattest Girl at Cutting Horse Ranch,” the daily life of a residential treatment center for eating disorders is disrupted by the arrival of a celebrity. The stories are set in Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Persian Gulf, and often touch on themes of addiction, class, sexuality, and gender. What Counts as Love is a poignant, often funny collection that asks us to take it and its characters seriously.
Daddy by Emma Cline
In ten remarkable stories, Emma Cline portrays moments when the ordinary is disturbed, when daily life buckles, revealing the perversity and violence pulsing under the surface. She explores characters navigating the edge, the limits of themselves and those around them: power dynamics in families, in relationships, the distance between their true and false selves. They want connection, but what they provoke is often closer to self-sabotage. What are the costs of one’s choices? Of the moments when we act, or fail to act?
Beautiful Days by Joyce Carol Oates
In the diverse stories of Beautiful Days, Joyce Carol Oates explores the most secret, intimate, and unacknowledged interior lives of characters not unlike ourselves, who assert their independence in acts of bold and often irrevocable defiance. In these stories, as elsewhere in her fiction, Oates exhibits her fascination with the social, psychological, and moral boundaries that govern our behavior until the hour when they do not.