The best genre-bending literary short story collections

The Books I Picked & Why

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

By Karen Russell

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Why this book?

I was immediately enthralled by Russell’s voice and the magical worlds she created. Each story in this collection is imbued with a fable-like quality and told with such beautiful and evocative prose that it doesn’t matter whether or not the stories end with any sense of completion. The journey is the point, not the destination. And Russell takes the reader on ten magical and imaginative journies. This book had a significant impact on many of the stories that would end up in Lost Creatures, especially when it came to writing stories with female protagonists or from the POV of a child. Her titles alone inspired the titles of some of my stories.


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Get in Trouble: Stories

By Kelly Link

Get in Trouble: Stories

Why this book?

I love reading novels and stories that make me wish I’d written them, and this collection by Kelly Link made me wish that time and time again. This book also introduced me to the concept of fabulism, a form of magical realism where elements of the fantastic occur in everyday settings, which is something I find compelling both as a reader and as a writer. Link combines humor, fantasy, magical realism, and more than a touch of horror to create a collection of stories that is unique, weird, and wonderful. 


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Upright Beasts

By Lincoln Michel

Upright Beasts

Why this book?

When it comes to short story collections I definitely have a type, as Upright Beasts is a blend of fantasy, horror, dark humor, and the surreal. And if we’re talking about genre-bending, no one does it quite like Lincoln Michel. His stories are strange and familiar, funny and sad, whimsical and disturbing, twisted and delightful. Sometimes all at the same time. Much like the other authors and collections I’ve listed here, these stories inspired my own writing and made me want to be a better writer. That’s what I want in the fiction I read: to not only be entertained but challenged.


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Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory: Stories

By Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory: Stories

Why this book?

Best known as the creator of the Netflix series BoJack Horseman, Raphael Bob-Waksberg brings his brand of offbeat and scathing dark humor to this collection of stories about love in all of its complicated, humiliating, soul-crushing absurdity. But even when the stories involve biting social commentary about modern-day dating or the appropriate number of goats to sacrifice at a wedding, they still manage to be heart-achingly poignant. Good writing should affect you on multiple levels, and this collection hit all of my emotional buttons.


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Vampires in the Lemon Grove: And Other Stories

By Karen Russell

Vampires in the Lemon Grove: And Other Stories

Why this book?

I couldn’t leave out this second collection of stories from Karen Russell. Similar to her debut collection but wholly unique, Vampires in the Lemon Grove is the darker, haunted sibling of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Even though many of the stories lean more toward horror than fantasy, there remains a sense of wonder, magic, and humor throughout. The story about the rules of Antarctic tailgating for the Food Chain Games pitting Team Whale against Team Krill is one of my favorites.


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