Adult Programming

Left-Field Short Story Collections by Women

Call them magical realism, call them fairytale-esque, call them gothic body horror, call them speculative fiction, call them whatever you want - these weird, off-kilter short story collections defy expectations and conventions and take you in directions you won't expect. You can't go wrong with any of them, but your list maker's personal favorites are: All the Names They Used for GodSt. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves; and Her Body and Other Parties

Here's a link to the booklist in the catalog -  https://decorah.biblionix.com/?booklist=26837

You Know You Want This book cover image

You Know You Want This

You Know You Want This - Kristen Roupenian

You Know You Want This brilliantly explores the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Among its pages are a couple who becomes obsessed with their friend hearing them have sex, then seeing them have sex…until they can’t have sex without him; a ten-year-old whose birthday party takes a sinister turn when she wishes for “something mean”; a woman who finds a book of spells half hidden at the library and summons her heart’s desire: a nameless, naked man; and a self-proclaimed “biter” who dreams of sneaking up behind and sinking her teeth into a green-eyed, long-haired, pink-cheeked coworker.

Spanning a range of genres and topics—from the mundane to the murderous and supernatural—these are stories about sex and punishment, guilt and anger, the pleasure and terror of inflicting and experiencing pain. These stories fascinate and repel, revolt and arouse, scare and delight in equal measure. And, as a collection, they point a finger at you, daring you to feel uncomfortable—or worse, understood—as if to say, “You want this, right? You know you want this.”

The Bloody Chamber book cover image

The Bloody Chamber

The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter

Angela Carter was a storytelling sorceress, the literary godmother of Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Audrey Niffenegger, J. K. Rowling, Kelly Link, and other contemporary masters of supernatural fiction. In her masterpiece, The Bloody Chamber—which includes the story that is the basis of Neil Jordan’s 1984 movie The Company of Wolves—she spins subversively dark and sensual versions of familiar fairy tales and legends like “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Bluebeard,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” giving them exhilarating new life in a style steeped in the romantic trappings of the gothic tradition.

Tender book cover image

Tender

Tender - Sofia Samatar

Divided into “Tender Bodies” and “Tender Landscapes,” the stories collected here in this first collection of short fiction from a rising star travel from the commonplace to the edges of reality. Some of Samatar’s weird and compassionate fabulations spring from her life and literary studies; some spring from the world, some from the void. Tender explores the fragility of bodies, emotions, and landscapes, in settings that range from medieval Egypt to colonial Kenya to the stars, and the voices of those who question: children, students, servants, researchers, writers.

Tender includes two new stories, “An Account of the Land of Witches” and the Nommo Award shortlisted “Fallow.”

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves book cover image

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves - Karen Russell

In these ten glittering stories, the award-winning, bestselling author Orange WorldSwamplandia, and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, takes us to the ghostly and magical swamps of the Florida Everglades. Here wolf-like girls are reformed by nuns, a family makes their living wrestling alligators in a theme park, and little girls sail away on crab shells.

Her Body and Other Parties book cover image

Her Body and Other Parties

Her Body and Other Parties - Carmen Maria Machado

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella “Especially Heinous,” Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Daydreams of Angels book cover image

Daydreams of Angels

Daydreams of Angels - Heather O'Neill

In Daydreams of Angels, Heather O’Neill’s first collection of short stories, she gives free rein to her imaginative gifts. In “Swan Lake for Beginners,” generations of Nureyev clones live out their lives in a grand Soviet experiment. In “The Holy Dove Parade,” a teenage cult follower writes a letter to explain the motivation behind her crime. And in another tale, a grandmother reveals where babies come from: the beach, where young mothers-to-be hunt for infants in the surf. Each of these beguiling stories twists the beloved narratives of childhood―fairy tales, fables, Bible parables―to uncover the deepest truths of family life.

And I Do Not Forgive You book cover image

And I Do Not Forgive You

And I Do Not Forgive You - Amber Sparks

In “Mildly Happy, With Moments of Joy,” a friend is ghosted by a simple text message; in “Everyone’s a Winner at Meadow Park,” a teen precariously coming of age in a trailer park befriends an actual ghost. Indeed, the depths of friendship are examined under the most trying circumstances.

Humorous and unapologetically fierce, other stories shine an interrogating light on the adage that “history likes to lie about women” as the subjects of “You Won’t Believe What Really Happened to the Sabine Women” (it’s true, you won’t) will attest. Sparks employs her vast knowledge of the morbid and macabre in “The Eyes of Saint Lucy,” in which a young girl creates elaborately violent dioramas of famous saints with her mother. And in “A Short and Speculative History of Lavoisier’s Wife,” the great efforts of French chemist Lavoisier’s widow to ensure his legacy are chillingly revealed.

Taken together, this hypnotic and otherworldly collection seeks to reclaim the lives of the silenced. Humorous and unapologetically fierce, And I Do Not Forgive You offers a mosaic of an all-too-real world that too often fails to listen to its goddesses.

All the Names They Used For God book cover image

All the Names They Used For God

All The Names They Used For God - Anjali Sachdeva

A dystopian tale about genetically modified septuplets who are struck by a mysterious illness; a love story about a man bewitched by a mermaid; a stirring imagining of the lives of Nigerian schoolgirls in the aftermath of a Boko Haram kidnapping. The stories in All the Names They Used for God break down genre barriers—from science fiction to American Gothic to magical realism to horror—and are united by each character’s brutal struggle with fate. Like many of us, the characters in this collection are in pursuit of the sublime. Along the way, they must navigate the borderland between salvation and destruction.

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