Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Brief Encounters: What to Read as the Holidays Loom? Here's a Quick Guide to Works by Three Masters of Short Fiction. (Bookmarks)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Brief Encounters: What to Read as the Holidays Loom? Here's a Quick Guide to Works by Three Masters of Short Fiction. (Bookmarks)

Article excerpt

Thank heaven for short stories--they provide all the pleasures of a novel, but you can start and finish one before you nod off to sleep. As the holidays crank up to their full frenetic pace and time to read Proust dwindles, here are three of this year's single-author story collections that Advocate readers and their bookish friends mustn't live without.

You Are Not a Stranger Here * By Adam Haslett * Nan A. Talese/ Doubleday * $21.95

A third-year Yale law student, Adam Haslett has done the impossible by garnering critical and commercial success on a debut short-stow collection. A New York Times best-seller after becoming a Today show Book Club selection (handpicked by Jonathan Franzen), Stranger is now a National Book Award finalist to boot. Haslett's stories introduce men and women on the brink of catharsis: A bipolar inventor suffering a manic episode drops in unannounced on his gay son, who's as troubled by the legacy he may have inherited as by his father's illness itself. A newly orphaned high school boy aches with desire for the savage attentions of the class bully. A middle-aged brother and sister share not only a home but a passionate love for a man whose imminent visit dredges up bittersweet memories. Not since Amy Bloom's critically acclaimed debut, Come to Me (1993), has a collection of stories offered such canny psychological insight into the neurotic mind.

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits * By Emma Donoghue * Harcourt Brace * $24

The prolific Irish novelist, historian, and playwright combines her whimsical humor with erudition to spin 17 fictional fables based on the lives of real historical figures, whether they're famous (art historian John Ruskin), near-famous (Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of the woman who wrote Frankenstein), or little-known characters such as sideshow dwarves, cross-dressers, and spinsters. …

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