Category Archives: short stories

Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies

This was just the book I needed after tiring days in the heat of the summer. These stories are witty, heartfelt, and though provoking. If you are in need of an easier read, I highly recommend picking this up.

Availability: COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Sarah Gleason
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Short story collection

February 1999,Ylla by Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles

“February 1999,Ylla,” is a short story from Bradbury’s the The Martian Chronicles. The twist is the story is from the point of view of a Martian woman trapped in an unromantic marriage. She has visions or dreams of the coming astronauts from Earth through telepathy and develops a special connection to one of them. Her husband pretends to deny the reality of the dreams, but eventually becomes jealous.

Availability:  COSMOS and SMCM
Review Submitted by: Maggie D. Brace ’82.
Rating: Must Read

Galatea by Madeline Miller

book coverGalatea, the story of the statue of a woman come to life, will leave you wanting more. I would describe this short story as dark and brutal. So much intense emotion is packed into 23 pages. I gave this a rating of “recommended with reservations” because I would recommend looking into the trigger warnings before reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in mythology. Madeline Miller has proven to be fantastic at retelling classic mythology. I enjoyed her other books Circe and The Song of Achilles very much.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Erin Crawford
Rating:  Recommended with reservations
Challenge: Book with a one word title

In the Country by Mia Alva

book coverIn the Country by Mia Alvar is a recommended read. Nine distinct stories reveal intriguing, sometimes gritty views into various women and men from the Philippines. Whether living at home or abroad, in opulence or alarming poverty, the characters have an interwoven connection to their homeland and their desire to fit in wherever they may be. I learned many curious details about Filipino culture.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: M Denise Brace nee Lerch (’82)
Rating:  Recommended

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

book coverA Visit From the Goon Squad follows a dozen or so integrated story lines across generations centered around the music industry. Unfortunately, while I applaud the author for her impressive tying together of all these stories, I found this book incredibly difficult to follow. I need a map of how all the stories are connected to really know what happened in this book. Some of the chapters were funny, emotional, and jarring, while others I found completing uninteresting and almost painful to get through. This book might be better suited with more brain space to dedicate to reading than I had this summer.

Availability: COSMOS, USMAI SMCM
Review Submitted by: Kristina Howansky
Rating: Recommended with Reservations

The Collected Stories of Rudyard Kipling

book cover

The Collected Stories of Rudyard Kipling is a recommended read. I was expecting children’s stories, and while several had children as characters, none would be considered fare for kiddie lit. Discussions of life in opium factories and psychological and physical abuse of minors names but a few bleak subjects

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: M Denise Brace nee Lerch (’82)
Rating:  Recommended

The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest ed. by Datlow & Windling

book cover
I found The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling on Hoopla though St Mary’s County Library. I downloaded it because the title included “Green”, it was a “World Fantasy Award Winner”, and “Green Man” reminded me of a passage towards the end of The Eye of the World. It is a book of fantasy short stories (plus two poems) typically involving fairies or the woods.

I don’t read many short stories, I’m usually disappointed if the story doesn’t span multiple books; the advantage is that if you don’t like a story, it is over soon – which I did suffer through. I liked the forward by Terri Windling (information about mythology and folklore related to the forest), “Charlie’s Away” by Mirdori Snyder, and “The Pagodas of Ciboure” by M Shayne Bell (Pagodas referenced creatures and not the temple) the best. I thought “Fee, Fie, Foe, et Cetera” by Gregory Maguire was a nice change of pace (it is the first time I have ever seen the phrase “agricultural treason” – but it was a little too silly for my taste).

For me, this book was just ok – but for those that enjoy stories about fairies, there is sure to be a story to enjoy.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Andy Ashenfelter
Rating:  Recommended with Reservations
Challenge: A book with a color in the title; short story collection

The Best American Travel Writing 2014, Ed. Paul Theroux

book cover

I highly recommend this book! It is a collection of short stories by various authors, including David Sedaris who came to SMCM for the Mark Twain Lecture. Some stories are funny and adventurous, while others explore war, environmental degradation, kidnapping, and all sorts of other things one may experience while traveling to another country.

Availability: USMAI
Review Submitted by: Maddie Beller
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: A short story collection

Death Wears a Beauty Mask and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark

cover artSeveral of these stories are laughably dated, but the acknowledgment warns the reader up front that the first writing was in the early 1970s. Murder mysteries aren’t all that different, even decades later, though the way the story is told certainly has changed (for the better, IMHO). And the rest of the stories are modern and enjoyable reads, as I always expect from Mary Higgins Clark. Surely a beach read that you can feel good about leaving for someone else to pick up.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Jane Kostenko
Rating: Recommended

Low Chicago ed. by George R. R. Martin

low chicago cover

Low Chicago edited by George R.R. Martin is a collection of short stories tied together in an overall plot – I don’t think they can really be enjoyed individually. This is not the first wild card book In the series, but it is the first that I have read; I’m not sure if someone more familiar with the series would have been less overwhelmed in the beginning. Low Chicago is a type of poker, and the book starts out with a poker game and turns into a time travel adventure (much more interesting than poker).

I did enjoy the book, and I plan to try the first book in the series. I liked “Meathooks on Ice” the best … and I now know how the great Chicago fire started (the cow was innocent). There was a surprising amount of politics in the stories.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Andy Ashenfelter
Rating:  Recommended
Challenge: Published in 2018

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I read the first book of the Red Rising series, Red Rising, by Pierce Brown. It is young adult, dystopian, science fiction. It is about Darrow, a miner in the Red caste who was proud to be sacrificing for the good of humanity, but eventually realizes that Reds are really just slaves.

It starts out a little slow, but at about 1/3 in, it became very captivating. I enjoyed the world, caste system, and the characters. Although I enjoyed the story and wondered “what next,” I was never worried about Darrow – I did worry about other characters. I was willing to suspend belief on the results from his medical transformation, but some may not be able to.

I also really enjoyed the references to other books:

  •  “So this kid is what? A predestined Alexander? A Caesar? A Genghis? A Wiggin? I ask.” (I assume this is an Ender’s Game reference)
  • In the third book one of the ship names is Dejah Thoris (I assume this is from the princess in the Warlord of Mars books)

Availability: COSMOS,
Review Submitted by: Andy Ashenfelter
Rating: Highly Recommended (with the caveat that it is YA, so not for everyone)
Challenge: A book with a color in the title

From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury

From the Dust ReturnedRay Bradbury is a man of many gifts. If you like sci-fi or horror fiction with a dash of fantasy, chances are Bradbury has something for you. From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury is one of his later books, and collects a few stories published elsewhere throughout Bradbury’s career, as well as some new ones. Everything is tied up around one family of sorts in Illinois that is made up of all sorts of strange creatures, from a kindly uncle with wings to a sleeping Egyptian princess whose mind explores the world and minds around her. The main conflict that is explored throughout the book is the threat of an increasingly unfazed and secular world against creatures who rely on their fear to thrive and exist.

If you read one story in this book and find it isn’t for you, there’s a good chance that you will find some character and story to hold close to your heart. There’s mortal Timothy’s preparations for the family Homecoming and his inner conflict over whether or not to join his mysterious family in immortality. There’s Cecy and her journey to experience mortal love. There’s Uncle Einer’s adventures into the world, and the life he finds out there. Uncle Einer’s marriage is particularly touching to me, but it may be different for you depending on what you like. I wouldn’t call this my favorite Bradbury book, but it’s still well worth a read.

Availability: USMAI
Review Submitted by: Kimberly Boenig
Rating: Highly Recommended