In February 2012, The New York Times gave a full-page review to Nathan Englander’s short story collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (Knopf, 2012). Said the reviewer, “There is a dark undertow to many of these stories, reminding us of the human capacity for evil and appetite for revenge.”
In March 2012, another full-page Times review said of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s debut collection Birds of a Lesser Paradise (Scribner, 2012), “Bergman provides alluring glimpses into the strangeness, the ruthlessness, of the animal kingdom.”
In November 2012, Alice Munro’s short story collection Dear Life (Random House, 2012) received glowing praise on The Guardian: “Munro has an uncanny knack of convincing the reader that the characters have real lives before the stories commence and continuing existences after.”
Reviews of and praise for short story collections abounds. Yet today’s short story writer is often met with discouraging words from industry professionals and even fellow writers. At a recent dinner, a friend told me of a well-known writer who had completed a short story collection and a novel. The publishing house which would acquire his work said that they would pay him one amount for his novel. For his short story collection and his novel together, they offered him the same amount. Evidently, the house had valued his story collection at $0. A day later, I was asked in an interview for a writing magazine whether, given the industry’s preference for novels, I considered writing short stories to be “a waste of time”.