Czech Techno & Other Stories of Music by Mark Anthony Jarman

If you like your stories to follow a straight line, this quintuplet may give you whiplash. Each one invites you into an introspective world of intense emotions, whether for a woman, 4-track cassette, California in the 90s, or disdain for accordions and addiction aftermath. Plenty of play on wordplay suggest that these stories are best heard aloud, so either find someone to read to you, or try reading aloud.…

The Lightning of Possible Storms by Jonathan Ball

Jonathan Ball’s short fiction collection, The Lightning of Possible Storms, is a volume that exults in the many ways in which it confounds expectations and keeps the reader off-balance. Ball’s stories are brashly eccentric, cynical, surreal and delightfully subversive metafictions.

In a manoeuvre that one does not often encounter in volumes of short fiction, Ball employs a framing device. The dedication reads, “For Aleya, who will learn why.”…

Boy With a Problem by Chris Benjamin

How does a teenager deal with grief? Where do you turn in the aftermath of tragedy? What can ease the shame of a dark secret? Who can help when things feel helpless? In sparse but emotive prose, Chris Benjamin’s collection of short stories, Boy With a Problem, explores these different kinds of difficult. In a mere 150 pages, the pieces move through grief, abuse, lust, oppression, resignation, shame, family tension, and more.…

Fontainebleu by Madeline Sonik

The world of Madeline Sonik’s unsettling volume of short fiction, the town of Fontainebleau, is menacing, tragic, violent and surreal. These seventeen linked stories chronicle the traumas, tormented longings and reckless escapades of the anguished adults, freaks of nature, psychos, juvenile delinquents, lost and frightened children, and at least one haunted police officer, who live there. Fontainebleau is a dead-end place, blighted, ill-starred, ramshackle and dangerous: a place that breeds desperation and engenders boredom, despair, sometimes wild and irrational hope, among its unlucky inhabitants—a place that people escape from rather than to—a place where a dead body, sawn in half, turns up in the river.…

Seeking Shade By Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle’s first collection of short stories, “Seeking Shade”, follows two volumes of poetry and a novella. Her skill and control are much in evidence here, the short story genre fitting beautifully with her spare and careful style and her clear-eyed grasp of intent.

The collection roves effortlessly between time periods, location, circumstance, gender, and Boyle displays credibility in all of these.…

Nothing Could Be Further from the Truth: Stories by Christopher Evans

Christopher Evans knows how to write. Without having met, I felt a kinship to this Vancouver author. His author’s resume is solid. I felt reviewing this work, a short story collection*, would not be hard work—that it should, in fact, be enjoyable. I was right.

From Always Hungry, Always Poor, the opening story:

The wife landlord has a bit of the darkness, too.

People Like Frank: and other stories from the edge of normal by Jenn Ashton

Jenn Ashton’s short stories are peopled with humble and forward-leaning characters, the collection aptly called People Like Frank.
Like many avid readers, I enjoy a good and satisfying dive into dark waters. I regularly embrace contradictions, twists and moral ambiguity. So it was completely unexpected for me to find myself quite simply relieved by the optimism in this collection. People Like Frank felt like a balm, particularly coming as it did during violent social unrest and a pandemic.…

2020 “The Very Best!” Book Awards: Best Short Fiction Winners!

For 2019, there were only two short fiction books in this particular category, so we declared it a tie. This year, we were blessed with some of the best and imaginative short fiction to choose from. It is difficult to narrow down the shortlist of five titles to three.

The End of Me: Stories by John Gould

In his third collection of very short fiction, Giller Prize finalist (in 2003 for Kilter) John Gould turns his laser focus on death in its infinite variety. A whole book about death might seem intimidating, or, to some, simply depressing. But by approaching the subject from every conceivable angle and constructing his stories using a profusion of refreshing and startling perspectives, Gould keeps his reader guessing and slightly off-balance throughout the volume.…

2020 Shortlist: “The Very Best!”Short Fiction

Last year, the Best Short Fiction category sported a meagre two titles (mind you, they were excellent ones!) but 2020 proved to be more of a watershed year for good solid, short story collections. Even some ingenious flash fiction was thrown into the mix. Here are the five shortlisted titles for Best Short Fiction, in no particular order.

Of the above five titles, three will be awarded either gold, silver, or bronze award early in September 2020.…

Seeds and Other Stories by Ursula Pflug

In my years of reading and reviewing, I consider Ursula Pflug one of my “finds”, that is, an author that I enjoy reading and want to read everything he/she produces. I was first introduced to Ms. Pflug by her 2017 novella Mountain. Down From (2018), is derived from the seeds of two short stories (“The Dreams of Trees” and “Daughter Catcher”) in this collection of her previously published works from the past decade or so.…

In the Beggarly Style of Imitation by Jean Marc Ah-Sen

Jean Marc Ah-Sen, award-winning author of Grand Menteur — a novel about Mauritian street gangs—, has returned with something new: a collection of short pieces titled In the Beggarly Style of Imitation. Now a novelist and short story writer, Ah-Sen has proved what a multi-faced creator he is. He is currently working on another novel “just to make sure the first one wasn’t a fluke,” he says (Ah-Sen, “The Jean Marc Ah-Sen Interview”). 

The Jean Marc Ah-Sen Interview

Marc Ah-Sen is the Toronto-based author of Grand Menteur, which The Globe and Mail selected as a top 100 Best Book in 2015. The National Post has hailed his work as “an inventive escape from the conventional.” His second book, In the Beggarly Style of Imitation*, was just published by Nightwood Editions. He lives with his wife and two sons.…

Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times, edited by Catriona Sandilands

the introduction to Rising Tides, Sandilands states that climate change stories “focus increasingly on thornier questions of persistence, adaptation, resistance, and renewal” instead of apocalypse. Ultimately, the short fiction, poetry and personal climate testimonies in this climate change anthology are about hope.

“The way rain falls the spring of life seed to root, stem to leaves. Oh trees, weather maker, life shaper, air sweet.…

Watermark by Christy Ann Conlin

Ann Conlin’s first collection of her short stories is entitled Watermark, and while I haven’t read either of her two previous (and highly acclaimed) full-length novels, I came away from Watermark suitably impressed with her short fiction work. There are eleven stories here, all in fine form, and no two alike, yet Ms. Conlin’s voice throughout is strong and sure, once you get the feel for it.…