Saw Cat Rambo’s post on this topic, and it looked fun, so, here are five short story writers I love to read.
1. Steve Rasnic Tem: Steve’s a mentor and a hero of mine. His short stories are varied, but almost all of them carry a quiet intensity, an emotional thud beneath the layers he’s building, that just rings true. A powerful talent. Steve’s collections are a bit hard to find, and can be expensive, but they are worth it. I’d highly recommend THE FAR SIDE OF THE LAKE or CITY FISHING, but if you’re like me, you’re also jazzed about his new novel DEADFALL HOTEL, which will be out in paperback soon, so pre order now!
2. Gary Braunbeck: While his dark opus THE INDIFFERENCE OF HEAVEN is a favorite novel of mine, Gary Braunbeck’s short fiction and novellas remain for me his best work. “Duty”, “Safe”, “Some Touch of Pity”, to name but three, are are all first class examples of how deep horror fiction can be when in the hands of the best in the biz. Like Tem, Braunbeck’s collections are a little pricey, but worth every dime and penny GRAVEYARD PEOPLE and HOME BEFORE DARK are stunning collections, and even the lesser stories are stronger than much of what you read online and in the prints. His novella IN THE MIDNIGHT MUSEUM, however, may be his greatest work in the shorter length.
3. Annie Proulx: Best known for THE SHIPPING NEWS and the short story “Brokeback Mountain,” Proulx’s collection CLOSE RANGE is tougher than most tough guy fiction, and executed with a wonderful voice and command of language and detail. Rich, vivid, and gritty and as dangerously pretty as a winter in Wyoming, Proulx’s first of three short story collections is worth reading for fun and learning for my trade.
4. John Collier: recommended by my former boss Oscar at Novel Idea, Kingston, Ontario’s best bookstore, Collier is a bizarre and fun fantasy writer. His stories are odd, complete little worlds unto themselves, often dripping with humor and strangeness. “Evening Primrose” was his most famous, about the supernatural critters that come to life after dark in a department store. But each story in FANCIES AND GOODNIGHTS is a dollop of the freaky deaky and boy do they taste so good! Big influence on Dahl and Gaiman, for those who’s taste run that way.
5.Jeffrey Ford: What I love about Ford is what I love about lots of these writers, the utter freedom of his imagination. Science fiction? Horror? Fantasy? Weird? Ford can put them all in a blender, and then make a wicked brew, or maybe just one or two or none and still it’s a wild flavor. THE FANTASY WRITER’S ASSISTANT is a gem, as is THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM, and THE DROWNED WORLD. My favorites are his tales of the character Jeffrey Ford! I’d love to see him do a collection of all those stories, like “A Night at the Tropics”, with essays on their origins. Ford inspires as he intimidates, which is a great place to be for a fan.
So there’s a furious five. I could lob more at ya, but if you’re thinking of buying short fiction collections for folks this year, you could do much worse than any of the ones here!