A Collection of Misfits

Backyard River
A river runs through the backyard

I really enjoy reading short stories collections. They allow you to enter the author’s world and style, but with quicker, sometimes weirder, payoffs. Some of my favorites are multiple collections by David Mitchell, Neil Gaiman’s, Hemingway, Poe, and Nabokov.
The masters (Hemingway, Poe, Nabokov) collections are stories that appeared in magazines or other disparate sources, a fun and accessible way to read the works of the greats. I’ve never read a novel by Nabokov, but I have a sense of him and his writing from the short stories.
It’s the clever and inter-related short story collections that grab my attention. Mitchell is the best example; Ghostwritten, his first work, has common elements, like characters crossing from one story to another, or the actions and outcomes of one story directly influencing the other. Subtly, of course… the first time I read it, when it first came out in paperback, I missed most of the references. But it’s delightful to re-read, looking for the connections and the common threads. Cloud Atlas is similar, but the relationship between the stories is much more obvious and key to understanding the book, with its nesting-doll structure. As mentioned a few weeks ago, Neon Leviathan does something similar, stories set in the same post-apocalyptic world and character crossover.
These stories inspired me to consider a collection of mine. By accident, or lack of imagination, I had set a few stories in a similar world. None of them got any traction on their own, but together they may carry more weight. I enjoy having a common thread run through these stories.
In a perfect world, I’d get one or two of these stories published elsewhere, then release them as a self-published collection. I don’t have any illusions about finding a publisher for a set of short stories by an unknown author… it’s well known that short story collections don’t sell. I think it’d allow me to scratch an itch, work on something I thought was interesting (regardless of how viable it is, see early thoughts on how my tastes don’t align with what the industry likes) and learn self-publishing. Worry more about the writing than publishing.

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