Selected Shorts Presents
35 New Stories
Hannah Tinti, Editor
Neil Gaiman, Foreward
March 15, 2022
Blurb: A must-have for any lover of literature, Small Odysseys sweeps the reader into the landscape of the contemporary short story, featuring never-before-published works by many of our most preeminent authors as well as up-and-coming superstars.
On their journey through the book, readers will encounter long-ago movie stars, a town full of dandelions, and math lessons from Siri. They will attend karaoke night, hear a twenty-something slacker’s breathless report of his failed recruiting by the FBI, and travel with a father and son as they channel grief into running a neighborhood bakery truck. They will watch the Greek goddess Persephone encounter the end of the world, and witness another apocalypse through a series of advertisements for a touchless bidet. And finally, they will meet an aging loner who finds courage and resilience hidden in the most unexpected of places—the next generation.
Published in partnership with beloved literary radio program and live show Selected Shorts in honor of its thirty-fifth anniversary, this collection of thirty-five stories captures its spirit in print for the first time.
Small Odysseys is an anthology of short-short written by many well known writers including Aimee Bender, Michael Cunningham, Lauren Groff and Elizabeth Strout. The stories range from science fiction, quirky stories, family relationship to romantic relationships. While not all of the stories will appeal, there will be at least one that does.
I had several that I enjoyed more than other and a few that completely struck out, although I did appreciate their storytelling and technique. “Unicorn Me” by Elizabeth Crane about a woman who takes a meditation course to help her deal with her husband’s sudden need to “investigate” another woman. When she’s told to choose and picture a spiritual being, she imagines a unicorn. The story resonates with with whimsy mixed with a touch of sadness and a lot of humanness. A definite winner for me.
“Home” by Elizabeth Strout is about a woman who goes to Maine to the potato farm where she grew up to help move her mother to a home when dementia begins to take over. The woman thinks she’s capable of getting her mother to the home but isn’t expecting the overwhelming emotions that take over or a heartbreaking scene where it becomes obvious that her mother knows what is going on. That one ripped me up from the inside out.
At first I didn’t quite care for A.M. Homes’ “Goodbye to the Road Not Taken” but it quickly grew on me with its fast-paced dialogue that felt like it could have emerged from a Seinfeld episode with its quirks and eccentricities.
“Almost Everything” by Etgar Keret is about a man who tries to do wonderful and unexpected presents for his wife’s birthday with the latest one being one that’s pretty much un-toppable.
There are so many excellent stories in Small Odysseys‘ pages. Honestly there were only about four that just didn’t appeal to me, which, frankly, considering the breadth of the writing and subjects is almost unimaginable. Definitely something for everyone.
And, for students of flash fiction, these are great stories to learn from regarding structure, characterization, and plot. So much can go into such a small package.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.