Short-story collections prove to be a solution to folks who are “too busy to read” or are trying to find a way to break up a monotonous commute becoming the “just right” in a Goldilocks situation. If you’re looking to test drive a new author or want to break into a new genre without committing to a long book, take your pick from the smattering of short-story collections coming out this fall.
KISS ME SOMEONE
By Karen Shepard
Tin House. 288 pp. $19.95 (Sept. 12)
Shepard’s collection draws on the fear of isolation. Floating in limbo, the multiracial women in her stories struggle to claim their identity. Shepard suggests that despite their efforts to move on, they find themselves trapped in self-destructive patterns.
By Kurt Vonnegut
Seven Stories. 944 pp. $45 (Sept. 26)
Vonnegut fans, rejoice! This giant volume contains all the master’s short fiction: classics such as “Welcome to the Monkey House” and “Harrison Bergeron,” posthumously published pieces and five never-before-published stories. Organized thematically under headings such as War, Women and Science, it’s a treat for Vonnegut fans and newbies. With a foreword by Dave Eggers.
By Jeffrey Eugenides
FSG. 304 pp. $27 (Oct. 3)
This is the first collection of stories from Eugenides, who won a Pulitzer Prize for “Middlesex” (2002). Five of these pieces appeared in the New Yorker. “Air Mail” was selected for the Best American Short Stories 1997.
HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES
By Carmen Maria Machado
Graywolf. 248 pp. $16 (Oct. 3)
Blending science fiction, comedy and fantasy, Machado explores violent acts committed against women. From a wife refusing to let her husband control her body to a woman attracting unwanted attention after weight-loss surgery, Machado’s stories inspire horror as well as sympathy. Longlisted for the National Book Award in fiction and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize.
THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2017
Edited by Meg Wolitzer
If you feel uneasy choosing just one author’s collection, let a witty novelist pick the best stories of the year for you. Wolitzer, whose most recent novel for adults is “The Interestings,” has selected stories by Mary Gordon, T.C. Boyle, Lauren Groff, Jim Shepard and many other beloved writers.
By Emily Fridlund
Sarabande. 240 pp. $16.95 (Oct. 10)
Following on the heels of her debut novel, “History of Wolves,” Fridlund’s “Catapult” won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. The collection centers on the hard, ugly parts about relationships ranging from familial to romantic. Fridlund pairs her writing with complex characters who evoke a sense of shock with the familiar.
By Tom Hanks
Knopf. 416 pp. $26.95 (Oct. 17)
Tom Hanks can now add author to his list of accomplishments, which already include producer, director and Academy Award-winning actor. Hanks’s debut collection contains 17 stories tackling different visions of the American Dream. His characters include an avid bowler who winds up on ESPN, an Eastern European immigrant and a billionaire trying to make it big in America.
SIX MONTHS, THREE DAYS, FIVE OTHERS
By Charlie Jane Anders
Tor. 192 pp. $12.99 (Oct. 17)
Winner of the 2017 Nebula Award for her novel “All the Birds in the Sky,” Anders is back with a collection of six stories about aliens, the end of the world and time travel. Bonus: For readers who finished “All the Birds in the Sky” and wondered what happened to Patricia’s cat, a story written exclusively for this collection has the answer.
THE KING IS ALWAYS ABOVE THE PEOPLE
By Daniel Alarcón
Riverhead. 256 pp. $27 (Oct. 31)
These stories explore immigration, family loyalty and redemption. Alarcón throws his characters into high-stakes situations to draw out humanity where it seems little hope is left. Longlisted for the National Book Award in fiction.
Nicole Y. Chung is the office manager of Book World at The Washington Post.