- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
Ray Bradbury has died at the age of 91.
Do you know Bradbury? Do you read Bradbury? If not this is your chance to get to know him through a kaleidoscopic projection of imagery of Bradbury Stories: 100 Of His Most Celebrated Tales (HarperCollins, 2005). Short stories seem to work in this ever-increasingly busy world with the Internet, Social Networking, and cell phones among other gadgets. You can easily go through one story in 3 or 5 minutes, and then get distracted by other things in life without having your story disrupted the next time you pick up the book again. Bradbury’s stories are definitely great reads due to their incredible depth and variants. Besides his sci-fi stories (his longtime obsession with planet Mars) you will discover other stories of that explore family love, romantic love, fairy tales, and horror. Some stories read like Hollywood screenplays (due to the author’s associations with the movie industry) but not without emotional depths: The Drummer Boy of Shiloh, Banshee, Henry The Ninth, Downwind from Gettysburg. Others create dreamlike atmospheres and mystery: That Woman on the Lawn, The Wish, Death and the Maiden. Others explore time-space travel with interesting personae: Darling Adolf, The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair. Across all tales there hangs a veil of nostalgia and doom, with a risk of being excessively poetic. Reading one story in this collection will definitely drive you to the next, and you will find it difficult to put down the book.
Check out other Ray Bradbury's books.
Interested in new and recently published American (and English language) writing? I always look forward to reading the annual volumes of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Series. Every autumn publisher Houghton Mifflin puts out collections of short stories, essays and other writing genres from the previous year’s writings published in literary and popular magazines, journals and websites. These collections include Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Sports Writing and Best American Travel Writing. Each year a well-known writer serves as guest editor. You can find listings of contributers of current annual volumes at Houghton Mifflin's Best American Series website. Another annual collection of fiction and prose is The Pushcart prize ; best of the small presses.
I am rediscovering a forgotten delight: reading short stories. I am always looking for something to read during quiet times and a short story can easily be read in one sitting. I have been known to nod off while reading a novel, but never while reading a short story. A well written short story moves right along and leads the reader on to a conclusion within an hour or less. Find a good collection of short stories and start reading. If one story is not so great, well, move on to the next. You are bound to find at least one stellar story that will rock your reading world.
I recently read an outstanding collection of short stories written by Elizabeth Berg. It was displayed at Pearl Avenue Branch Library. The cover and title caught my eye: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Now that title spoke to me. Thoughts of chocolate, donuts, cake, ice cream, lasagna and other assorted high caloric, yummy, fat laden comfort foods swirled through my mind. What a fantasy to ponder! I grabbed the book from the display and checked it out. At first glance I thought the book in my hands was a novel, but I quickly discovered this was not so after finishing the first story: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. I devoured that story faster than a bag of potato chips and smiled and laughed throughout the reading of it. My appetite was whetted and so I moved on to the second story and then the third until a few days later I had read and mentally digested all 13 stories in this delectable collection.
The full title of Elizabeth Berg’s short story collection is The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation. While an element of food is present in most of the stories, there is a touch of rebellion sprinkled throughout. I would not characterize this collection of stories as “Chick Lit,” but the theme of the collection is women and their inner lives. Elizabeth Berg has an easy writing style that connects with readers. I often found myself on the verge of laughter or tears while reading a story. Through her fine storytelling Berg explores the different stages of women’s lives. There are challenges, frustrations, joys, sacrifices and disappointments that season every woman’s life, and Elizabeth Berg has illuminated them brilliantly. So, get yourself a bowl of ice cream, a slice of pie, or some chips and dip and settle in with The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted (book or CD ) for a banquet of delicious stories.
When the government wields its power against its own people, every citizen becomes an enemy of the state. Will you fight the system, or be ground to dust beneath the boot of tyranny? Brave New Worlds is one of several short story anthologies (other titles: Mirrorshades, Federations, and Wastelands) that take a particular subgenre of science fiction explore it through works submitted by talented authors. Brave New Worlds is a collection of dystopian fiction, which portrays social and political structures gone wrong. While other anthologies only release stories written during a particular year, this collection features some of the best dystopian fiction stories printed. Notable authors include: Neil Gaiman, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, and Orson Scott Card. one particular story of note was "Ones who walk away from Omelas" by Ursula Le Guin. Guin, who is famous for writing the Wizard of Earthsea series, takes a fantasy setting and applies a terrible cost for the prosperity of the village. The stories themselves are well written pieces of dystopian fiction exploring life under totalitarian governments and cultures.
Other classic titles you may enjoy include:
Written by volunteer Robert D.
Wanting something to read one day, I spotted The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg. The book is a collection of short stories that deal with women from their teenage years up to age 80. Some of the stories made me laugh out loud, while others touched my heart. I loved this book so much, I sought out other titles that she's written. I love that she jumps right into her stories. Her characters are so real and are easy to relate to. If you'd like to learn more about her and her books, here is her website.
Sherman Alexie is a well established Native American writer from Washington. He is well known both for his books of short stories as well as novels. In "Ten Little Indians" Alexie writes various short vignettes about daily life. In one short story, he talks about the angst of being in a party, and looking at the women. The funniest image is of him choosing to talk with the 10th prettiest girl in the room, reasoning that she would be interested in him because he is the tenth most attractive man in the room. His stories are poignant and thought-provoking, and the images stay with you.