Lost in the Stacks/Short Stories

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Welcome to the ninth entry of our blog series 'Lost in the Stacks' - with recommendations by Dublin City Libraries staff exploring our first-rate catalogue, links provided, nudging you towards making an inspired selection. Short story collections usually get short shrift but this is not the case today in this quirky blog written by staff member, Brian, from our Relief Panel.


Are you sick and tired of short stories parading the underbelly of life? – if so, try cocktails by the pool with John Cheever. As a bonus you’ll get the wonderfully wicked rant ‘The Worm In The Apple’ and in ‘The Swimmer’ get a brilliant description of Burt Lancaster’s torso.


Celebrated opening lines of novels include “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know” from Albert Camus’ ‘The Outsider’ and from ‘Murphy’ by Beckett “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new”. Perhaps less celebrated but my personal favourite begins the short story  ‘An Interest In Life’ (from ‘The Collected Stories Of Grace Paley’) – “My husband gave me a broom one Christmas”. What follows is a story opening both perfectly put together and hilarious.


I recently re-read the story ‘The Lost Salt Gift Of Blood’ from ‘Island : collected stories’ by Alistair MacLeod. I was beguiled again by MacLeod’s huge sense of a small place, by his divination of the familial ties that bind us and by his plainspeak about the unspoken.


On listening to ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ recently I thought to myself that, with no offence to Morrissey and the boys, I’d prefer to be re-reading a paragraph from the short story ‘ Smorgasbord’ (collection ‘The Night In Question’) by Tobias Wolff that ends with the line “I let the light go out”. I don’t know where to start going on about this collection so I won’t.  Just read.



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