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Short Stories

June 3, 2012 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
I want to let you in on a little New York secret: The city that never sleeps slacks off during the summer. Some offices have casual Fridays, others shut down at noon. When I worked there in the mid-'90s, my boss would call from the train to the Hamptons every Friday morning. Essentially, he had a three-day weekend - every weekend. Publishing is one of the businesses that slows down: There are fewer books coming out, fewer authors on tour and fewer emails being sent. Friday is a veritable email wasteland.
April 25, 2012
Doris Betts Southern author of short stories, novels Doris Betts, 79, a novelist and writing teacher best known for short stories and novels that evoke the geography and mores of the South, died of lung cancer Saturday at her home in Pittsboro, N.C., her son Erskine said. Betts was best known for her novel "Souls Raised From the Dead," which won the Southern Book Award in 1995. It concerns a dysfunctional family grappling with fate, faith and the limits of love.
April 8, 2012 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
Suddenly, a Knock On the Door Etgar Keret FSG Originals: 208 pp., $14 paper If you have room in your heart, wallet or reading list for just one book of short stories this year, make it Etgar Keret's "Suddenly, A Knock On The Door. " I don't care that it's only April: It's a superlative collection, one that will easily stand up to all comers. Keret writes short fiction - often, very short. It's astonishing what he can do in just two pages: go from funny to bizarre to touching to satiric to meta to surprising and surreal.
March 11, 2012 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Tribune Newspapers
Hot Pink Adam Levin McSweeney's Books: 211 pp., $22 In the nine years it took Adam Levin to write his 1,030-page novel "The Instructions" (2010), he was also publishing short fiction. Those pieces, plus a few more, are gathered in the trim collection "Hot Pink," proving that even with a tiny word count, Levin can tell a good, funny story. This collection is front loaded: Its best pieces, surreal and sardonic, appear at the book's beginning. First is "Frankenwittgenstein," in which Mike, a teenage boy, tells the story of his father's sudden dismay over anorexia, his effort to invent a doll that might combat it, and how his plunge into obsession affects his family.
February 17, 2012 | By August Brown, Los Angeles Times
In a smoke-stained San Francisco hotel room, Felix Starro is making fake blood. Starro is the third in a line of hucksterish Filipino faith healers. Hunched over a plastic jug in the bathroom, he brews corn syrup, water and red dye for a grim ritual known as the Holy Blessed Extraction of Negativites. As he stirs, he remembers how "long ago, Papa Felix made it the same way; because my hands were small my job was to squirt the liquid into the tiny bags and knot them up. We'd stay up all night, diligent and silent, as though our work was truly blessed and holy.
February 2, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank Stories Nathan Englander Alfred A. Knopf: 210 pp., $24.95 Give Nathan Englander credit for chutzpah. The title of his new book of short fiction, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank," draws on two iconic antecedents: the young diarist killed at Bergen-Belsen and the Raymond Carver story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. " Each, in its way, informs the collection; each, in its way, helps to set the terms.
January 15, 2012 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
The Odditorium Stories Melissa Pritchard Bellevue Literary Press: 256 pp., $14.95 paper The literary landscape is jammed with short stories. MFA programs teach them, and authors hone their skills writing them, while publishers generally steer clear of them because, they say, nobody buys them. It's a glut: There are so many of them, stories that are not-so-bad or pretty-good. Few authors rise above to be seen as truly excellent; at her best, Melissa Pritchard belongs in that number.
January 1, 2012 | By Diane K. Fisher
Sun and Earth have a chat. "Well, Happy New Year, Little blue Earth! You've made one more lap 'Round my blazing hot girth. "Through my merciless winds, For yet one more year You've kept a firm hold On your atmosphere. " "Dear Sun, you're most generous With all of your praise. You know it's a feat To defend from your blaze. "For you hurl out harsh rays And electrical dust That could fry life on Earth.
November 27, 2011
SUNDAY Now departing on Track 1, the "2011 Soul Train Awards. " Cedric the Entertainer is your host; performers include Natalie Cole, Common and Cee Lo Green, and Gladys Knight and Earth, Wind & Fire receive career honors. (9 p.m. BET) So he got the boot on "DWTS"; that's just part of "Being Chaz. " The transgender son of Sonny Bono and Cher is profiled in this new follow-up documentary, followed by the similarly themed special "I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition. " (OWN, 8 and 9 p.m.)
October 14, 2011 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Movie Critic
"Went the Day Well?" is the innocent-sounding title of one of the most subversive films to come out of World War II, a British drama that was unsettling in its day and is even more so now. Playing for a week at the New Beverly Cinema in a 35mm restoration, this 1942 drama, originally released in the heart of the conflict, takes an unnerving look at a head-spinning possibility: German soldiers masquerading as Britons taking over the bucolic English...
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