Four short story collections to read this summer
The state of the short story has been much-debated recently. The form is having a come back, say some; short story writers still feel in the shadow of novelists, say others; aren't novels long stories anyway, so why do we pit them against each other? say others again. The debate is as alive and well as the stories themselves, as these four collections that Picador is publishing this summer will testify. (If we say so ourselves.)
Your Father Sends His Love by Stuart Evers (published 21 May 2015)
Editor Kate Harvey: When I first read Your Father Sends His Love, I felt that this book had come from a very deep place. Simply, it is a book about parents and children, but each story is a depth-charge. They ask, do we ever really know those we love most? What happens when words are not enough?
‘Evers’s everymen break my heart’ Eimear McBride
‘Stuart Evers writes with great subtlety about all the ways we estrange ourselves from the people we love and about the rare moments of grace in which we somehow stumble home again’ Jenny Offill
>>Read ‘Lakelands’ from Your Father Sends His Love
The Not-Dead and the Saved and Other Stories by Kate Clanchy (published 18 June 2015)
Kate Clanchy had us all bent double with laughter when she read a story from the collection at an event earlier this year. It was particularly appropriate for a publishing event, involving as it did an agent who goes to discover the next big thing. The stories are incredibly wide-ranging, from a man doomed to spend his life trying to find solutions to cancer to a new mother haunted by a swaddling, tablet-eating great-aunt. The title story won the BBC National Short Story Award 2009 and the V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize.
‘She writes about what we know in such a way that we come to know it better, more sharply, in better colours’ Helen Dunmore
>>Read ‘Aunt Mirrie and the Child’ from The Not-Dead and the Saved
Beneath the Bonfire by Nickolas Butler (published 30 July 2015)
We published Nickolas Butler’s first novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, in 2014 and fell completely in love with Little Wing, the rural Wisconsin town where it is set, and its inhabitants. These short stories are every bit as wonderful: Butler is sensitive and warm in his telling and treatment of his characters, even when they are less than good to one another. Like the novel, they come from a very personal place, set as they are in his home state of Wisonsin, where he has lived for most of his life.
‘A writer who makes you feel more human than you thought possible’ Matthew Quick, bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin (published 10 September 2015)
Editor Kate Harvey again: Born in 1936, the fabulously named Lucia Berlin published 76 stories in her lifetime, but she was still not well-known at the time of her death in 2004. Her collected stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women, introduced by the award-winning short story writer Lydia Davis, is about to change all that.
The stories are punchy, surprising, fresh, eccentric, witty, review-worthy, classic stories-with-a-story.
‘With Lucia Berlin we are very far away from the parlours of Boston and New York and quite far away, too, from the fiction of manners, unless we are speaking of very bad manners . . . The writer Lucia Berlin most puts me in mind of is the late Richard Yates.’ LRB, 1999