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CDN Short Stories: The New Generation
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CDN Short Stories: The New Generation

By 49thShelf
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A few years ago, we made a legendary list called "The New Generation of Canadian Poets", celebrating poets who'd published their first collection since 2000. This month, which is our Short Story Month, we're doing the same thing for short fiction, bringing together writers who are heirs-apparent to Munro and Gallant, but doing the whole thing 21st-century-style. And what you'll find below is just a start. We want your suggestions: what are your favourite collections by writers known primarily for their short fiction who've published their first books this century? Tweet us your answers at @49thShelf.
Mad Hope
Why it's on the list ...
If there is such thing as a CanLit cult classic, Birrell's Mad Hope is it, a book with a fervent following, a reference point for readers in the know: "Mad Hope.""Oh, yeah." The stuff of this book is the stuff of the world, the whole world, from Ceaușescu's Romania to online pregnancy forums, Birrell deftly making connections to illuminate the ordinary as extraordinary, and the disturbing as right at home with us all. It's an absolutely stunning collection.
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And Also Sharks
Why it's on the list ...
How you read Westhead's collection will depend on your current state of mind: it's terribly, terribly funny, and horribly sad at once, and also wonderful. That a single thing can be all three is a statement of Westhead's considerable talent. My favourite line from the book, from the story, "We Are All About Wendy Now," continues to be, "This is what I used to think about Sherry—wait, that’s not what I meant to say. I never really thought anything about Sherry. Except that she always seemed like a nice person. I don’t know if I would’ve said before this that she was nice enough to give you the shirt off her back, but when you stop and think about it, that’s a lot to ask from someone."
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Bobcat and Other Stories
Why it's on the list ...
To read Bobcat is to be transported into worlds so well-evoked that they're claustrophobic, and the subtly explosive ending to the title story haunts me still today. What links the stories in this disparate collection is a writer who has spent years honing her craft. Each of these stories are—as ideal architecture is described in the story, "Fialta"—"productions of the imagination that attempt to describe and define life on earth, which of course is an overwhelming mix of stability and desire, fulfillment and longing, time and eternity".
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Oh, My Darling
Why it's on the list ...
These are stories of women mostly, usually ordinary, middle-class, each with her own particular tragedies, her own emotions and feelings which can seem so profound and yet are part of a larger scheme, un-grand in its scope. She has a yearning for something just out of reach, but only when she is distracted from day-to-day life. There are things to be done, and she does them, unable to articulate the feeling, the fear in her bones–something decidedly bodily. How do we fit into the world, into our lives, mother-daughter relationships which are freighted and fraught, the awkward symmetry of marriage, the stunning pain of loss. Kitchen-sink stuff, yes, but then there is a drag-queen who is the son of Nazi war criminals and walks on his hands, as well as a death by mountain lion, by which I mean that this collection will surprise you.
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Light Lifting
Why it's on the list ...
Sometimes the stories in a collection all kind of blur together, but each one in Light Lifting is truly a standout. It's a book packed with absolutely devastating moments: the train tunnel at the end of "Miracle Mile", the violence at the end of the title story, the gut-punch that concludes "Adult Beginner." Though my favourite devastation is the entirety of family life in "Wonder About Parents," so beautiful and perfect in its depiction of marriage and parenthood, how life can be so unbearably wonderful and terrible all at once, and how we cling to one another in the darkness of it all.
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This Cake is for the Party

This Cake is for the Party

Stories
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Finalist for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor Award
Sarah Selecky’s first book takes dead aim at a young generation of men and women who often set out with the best of intentions, only to have plans thwarted or hopes betrayed.
These are stories about friendships and relationships confused by unsettling tensions bubbling beneath the surface. A woman who plans to conceive ends up in the arms of her husband’s best friend; a man who baby-sits a ne …

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Bull Head

Bull Head

edition:Paperback

Danuta Gleed Literary Award runnerup

A line-dancing aficionado visits his brother in jail in hopes of mending their relationship, and instead discovers his own unwitting role in his brother's failed life. After the death of his wife and children, a logger tries to survive the Thanksgiving weekend on his own. A delinquent teen's life is changed forever by a work-camp placement with a violent older boy. A truck driver seeks sanctuary from his abusive wife in a fantasy world of strip clubs and pers …

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Floating Like the Dead

Floating Like the Dead

Stories
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

In this sharply observed and erotically charged debut collection, Journey Prize-winner Yasuko Thanh immerses us in the lives of people on the knife edge of desire and regret, hungry for change yet still yearning for a place to call home, if only for a little while.
 
In a story set in 1960s Germany and crackling with sexual tension, a young woman on the verge of making a life-changing decision is sent to work as a homemaker for a farmer and his family while his wife is away. When his dying love …

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