Over the last few weeks, I've found myself on some truly epic flights. While these kinds of trips are great for devouring novels like air, I can never really settle into reading short stories this way. Short stories are like espresso shots, best consumed in one quick go. If for no other reason, thank goodness life isn't built on cross-country travel.
Most of us probably make some kind of commute each day. Whether it's a few blocks or a few subways stops or — eek! — a few hours in traffic, odds are you're moving from one location to the next, hefting a tote or a backpack, gearing up for the day or the evening. It's all too tempting to pass the time scrolling through your phone (oh hi, Instagram). How to make your routine bearable, fortifying, even exhilarating? Re-up on your short fiction.
I love story collections and literary magazines, but, I'll admit to forsaking anything that might add poundage to my bag. So, though I'm usually a diehard proponent of reading on the printed page, these six short stories are all just a click away, housed on websites that contain hundreds of other great stories ... definitely the best internet wormhole you can get sucked into.
1. "The Missing Guest" by Alice Sola Kim
There are plenty of reasons to love Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter, but personally I'm all about the literature: the book recommendations, the essays, and the short stories like this one. In "The Missing Guest," Whiting Award winner Alice Sola Kim, the cool-girl writer of a totally idiosyncratic mash-up of literary fiction and sci-fi, takes an old-fashioned kind of ghost story and infuses it with weed, dick-pick talk, and gloriously real messy friendships. Read it here.
2. "The Chosen One" by Luis Negrón
Like the other stories in Negrón's first collection, Mundo Cruel , transgressive relationships are the ties that connect the Puerto Rican community he depicts in "The Chosen One." The fiction in BOMB is always edgy and world-rocking, and this story is no exception. It reads super quick, and if you love coming-of-age stories with mixed-up feelings about sex and church, this one is for you. Personally, I can't stop thinking about the descriptions, which practically zing. Read it here.
3. "Paris" by Amanda Goldblatt
I'm a fan of Amanda Goldblatt's essays (like this one about watching Frasier and questioning your self): they're associative, canny, lyric, and gorgeous. Her short stories are worth tracking down, too. This one, in Dzanc Book's literary magazine, The Collagist , circles back on a blurry memory of Paris and showcases Goldblatt's knack for figurative language: "She had been expecting his death for most of her life. When it happened it was just a drinking glass that had been sitting on the edge of a table, finally knocked over." Read it here.
4. "Interesting About E and A" by Helen Oyeyemi
"It’s childish to have a “best friend”, I know," writes Oyeyemi, one of many lines that'll stop you in your tracks in her delicious new story, "Interesting About E and A." The British author's newest book, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, is filled with stories that teem with the sort of effortless, everyday magic as her novels. If you're just meeting Oyeyemi's writing, "Interesting About E and A" is a charming introduction. Read it here.
5. "Alma" by Junot Diaz
This is one of my favorite stories of all time. In his signature frenetic and polylingual prose, Diaz tells the tale of a college relationship that goes south. If you're a fan of second-person, this one's for you. Read it here.
6. "Sweet Tea and Honey" by Natashia Deón
Deón, who runs the crazy-good L.A. reading series Dirty Laundry Lit, is a rising star: her novel Grace comes out this summer and it's already garnering rave reviews. In the meantime, you can check out her prose in B O D Y, an under-the-radar and awesome lit journal. Read "Sweet Tea and Honey," which shares some DNA with Grace, here.
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