This Week in Short Fiction


Coming off the holiday weekend, the trusted dispensary of short fiction, Joyland, published “The History of Hanging Out” by Kevin Mandel. Mandel’s story lives up to its title, encapsulating the bundled, sparking energies of a group of young creators. If you’ve ever started a band or a literary magazine, you’ll recognize yourself and your gang in this story. Through frenzied, driving sentences (that are best when read aloud), the story spins itself like a song:

Talking, the eight of them, mostly one on one, in all possible configurations. Talking with unyielding eye contact, diamond-hard sincerity, and saying, really, in variation, pretty much the same thing: holy crap we’re actually doing this! Yet now that we are, we must do it all the way, never look back nor have a second’s doubt because yes, true, what we are after, truly after, might not be so easy to name but still we know it to be real and besides somebody has to succeed in this world? Yes? True? So why not us?

For quieter short fiction, visit Tin House’s Open Bar to watch “Cactus Flower,” an animated short film by Seungah Yoo. In lieu of dialogue, Yoo punctuates his day-in-the-life exploration of a couple with everyday sounds from the city. New York filmmaker Ilana Simons curates Tin House Reels, which features one short film each week that forges interesting connections between language and the visual.

Nobel Prize-winning short story master Alice Munro turned 83 this Thursday. To celebrate the prolific author whose career has spanned more than half a century, a mini-roundup seems in order. First, visit Open Culture for links to 18 of her stories. Next, for insight into Munro’s approach to the craft, read her 1994 Art of Fiction No. 137 Paris Review interview with Mona Simpson and Jeanne McCulloch. Then, check out this trailer for Hateship Loveship, a film loosely based on a story from Munro’s 2001 collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. The film, released in the US in April, is a modernized adaptation starring Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, and Nick Nolte.

In other Munro-related news, on Wednesday Alice’s ex-husband Jim Munro told The Globe and Mail that he will be retiring this fall from running Munro’s Books in Victoria and handing over ownership to four senior employees. The pair opened the store together in 1963, and Alice has said that she holed herself up in the bookstore one January Sunday and began writing The Lives of Girls and Women.

Jill Schepmann's stories have been read on NPR and have appeared in Parcel and Midwestern Gothic, among others. She worked as a fiction and nonfiction editor at Nashville Review while getting her MFA at Vanderbilt. She lives in San Francisco and tweets @jillypants. More from this author →