Short and Strange

By Becky Thornton

Get a quick escape from this reality with a short story to take you far from what you know. Surreal visions, horrifying ghost stories, alien planets, and monsters that will seem hauntingly familiar await you in these collections.

  • Gutshot : stories

    2015 by Amelia Gray

    A woman creeps through the ductwork of a quiet home. A medical procedure reveals an object of worship. A carnivorous reptile divides and cauterizes a town. Amelia Gray's curio cabinet expands in Gutshot, where isolation and coupling are pushed to their dark and outrageous edges. These singular stories live and breathe on their own, pulsating with energy and humanness and a glorious sense of humor.

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  • A Tree Or A Person Or A Wall : STORIES

    2016 by Matt Bell

    Here we have Matt Bell at his most inventive and uncanny: parents and children, murderers and monsters, wild renditions of the past, and stunning visions of the present, all of which build to a virtuoso reimagining of our world. A 19th-century ministerbuilds an elaborate motor that will bring about the Second Coming. A man with rough hands locks a boy in a room with an albino ape. An apocalyptic army falls under a veil of forgetfulness. The story of Red Riding Hood is run through a potentially endless series of iterations. A father invents an elaborate, consuming game for his hospitalized son. Indexes, maps, a checkered shirt buried beneath a blanket of snow: they are scattered through these pages as clues to mysteries that may never be solved, lingering evidence of the violence and unknowability of the world.

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  • Vampires In the Lemon Grove : stories

    2013 by Karen Russell

    Within these pages, a community of girls held captive in a Japanese silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms and plot revolution; a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow that bears an uncanny resemblance to a missing classmate that they used to torment; a family’s disastrous quest for land in the American West has grave consequences; and in the marvelous title story, two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try to slake their thirst for blood and come to terms with their immortal relationship.

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  • The Unfinished World : and other stories

    2016 by Amber Sparks

    Amber Sparks’s dazzling new collection bursts forth with stories that render the apocalyptic and otherworldly hauntingly familiar. In “The Cemetery for Lost Faces,” two orphans translate their grief into taxidermy, artfully arresting the passage of time. The anchoring novella, “The Unfinished World,” unfurls a surprising love story between a free and adventurous young woman and a dashing filmmaker burdened by a mysterious family. Sparks’s stories―populated with sculptors, librarians, astronauts, and warriors―form a veritable cabinet of curiosities. Mythical, bizarre, and deeply moving, The Unfinished World and Other Stories heralds the arrival of a major writer and illuminates the search for a brief encounter with the extraordinary.

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  • Magic for Beginners

    2005 by Kelly Link

    Whether describing witches filled with ants that carry pieces of time, or an orange-juice-colored corduroy couch that looks as if it "has just escaped from a maximum security prison for criminally insane furniture," these stories examine American middle- and lower-middle-class life from unexpected angles that mix fairy tale, science fiction, and zaniness. In Link's worlds, a village takes refuge in a magical handbag, and a convenience store serves zombies as an experiment in retail. Reading Link, one has a sense that sometimes a person needs to wander off for a better perspective, and sometimes a person simply needs to wander off. (The New Yorker)

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  • The Elephant Vanishes

    1993 by Haruki Murakami

    Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald's in the middle of the night; and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard. By turns haunting and hilarious, The Elephant Vanishes is further proof of Murakami's ability to cross the border between separate realities -- and to come back bearing treasure.

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  • Burning Your Boats : the collected short stories

    1996 by Angela Carter

    These are not at all conventional stories that glimpse moments in contemporary life.They are tales, legends, variations on mythic themes, sparked by writing of great vitality, color and inventiveness, and a deeply macabre imagination. Carter's favorite themes mingle love and death. She cherishes dark forests, winter sunsets, wolves and werewolves, bloody murder, hunters, the cruel, rich husbands of maidens condemned to death. But she also has a ribald, extremely contemporary sense of humor that keeps glancing through the dark mists. This is not a collection to be read at a sitting; the stories' jolting intensity makes them indigestible in large doses. But for readers who respond to an antic fancy dressed in highly charged prose, they are a generous treat. (Publisher's Weekly)

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  • The Birthday of the World and Other Stories

    2002 by Ursula K Le Guin

    Deeply concerned with gender, these eight stories, although ostensibly about aliens, are all about ourselves: love, sex, life and alienation are all handled with illuminating grace. Le Guin's overarching theme, the journey, informs her characters as they struggle to come to terms with themselves or their worlds. The journey can be literal, as in "Paradises Lost," set on a generational ship, where the inhabitants, living in a utopia, learn they will land on the planet their ancestors set out to colonize 40 years earlier...Or the journey can be figurative, as in "Coming of Age in Karhide," in which an adolescent in a genderless society enters sexual maturity..."The Matter of Seggri" takes place on a planet where women greatly outnumber men, and in "Unchosen Love" and "Mountain Ways," society is based on complex marriage relationships comprising four people. Le Guin handles these difficult topics through her richly drawn characters and her believable worlds. (Publisher's Weekly)

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  • Stone Mattress : nine tales

    2014 by Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood gives us nine unforgettable tales that reveal the grotesque, delightfully wicked facets of humanity. “Alphinland,” the first of three loosely linked tales, introduces us to a fantasy writer who is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband. In “Lusus Naturae,” a young woman, monstrously transformed by a genetic defect, is mistaken for a vampire. And in the title story, a woman who has killed four husbands discovers an opportunity to exact vengeance on the first man who ever wronged her.

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