I recently started watching booktube on Youtube. One of my favorite booktubers, Savidge Reads, posted a video a few weeks ago in which he gathered several short story collections and read the first story in each book. I enjoyed the video and decided I wanted to try it.
I don’t have that many short story collections in my personal library. Fortunately, I also want to read more books housed by the branch of the Waco McLennan County Library I patronize. I visited the website, typed in short stories, got a paper and pencil, and started writing down titles and authors. On my next trip to the library, I hunted down those books. The first five I found joined The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu as the books I would read. The following week, I added four more books. I really wanted to read two of those four (they were checked out during the hunt), I wanted to add another dedicated science fiction and fantasy collection, and I never read Alice Munro.
I have read the first story in each collection. I have ranked them. And the top ranking books get read to completion. The others get returned to the library on my next trip.
Here are the books with my thoughts on the stories (in the order I read them).
“A Burglar’s-Eye View of Greed” from Catch and Release by Lawrence Block. A very short story in which a burglar bemoans the state of the world from the used bookstore he purchased with his ill gotten gains. It is a good story. But it is dull and a bit flat.
“William Wei” from You Are Having a Good Time by Amie Barrodale. A very compelling character study of a man’s relationship with a woman he met on the phone. Enjoyable. But the style is a bit weird. In a good way.
“The Book Making Habits of Select Species” from The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. A bunch of alien species make books in some very weird and compelling ways that reveal interesting truths about how we communicate. This story is amazing. Just amazing.
“Nemecia” from Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade. A little girl grows to resent the beautiful, but abusive, cousin who has lived with her family before she was born. I love this story. It is really good.
“Paradise” from Problems with People by David Guterson. A widower and divorcee begin a tentative new relationship while dealing with memories of the past. It is a well written story. But not terribly interesting.
“Weird” from Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip. A couple enjoying a picnic in a bathroom tell stories of the weird. Not very good. Bland writing.
“Brace for Impact” from Are You Here For What I’m Here For? by Brian Booker. A high school senior recovering from an illness is taken to a house in which he meets a disabled survivor of a plane crash. I love the first part of this story. I love the narrator. I love his voice. But the story falls apart towards the end. And ends on a rather confusing note.
“Home” from Heartbreaker by Maryse Meijer. A woman and an older man interact. I really did not like this story.
“The Pier Falls” from The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon. You guessed it, a pier falls. Well written description of a tragedy. But what is the point?
“Dimensions” from Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. A woman enters into and is rescued from an abusive relationship. A very good story. But it does lag, though the time shifts keep the lagging down to a minimum. Doree is an amazing character.
Those are the stories. How do I rank them?
Two: “The Book Making Habits of Select Species”
Three: “William Wei”
Four:” Brace for Impact”
Six: “The Pier Falls”
Seven: “A Burglar’s- Eye View of Greed”
So, there is the rankings. I must say I enjoyed this. I will definitely keep an eye out on several of these writers.