This Week in Short Fiction


Let’s dedicate this week to the publications, editors, and benevolent marketing gurus who unleashed a whole bunch of quality FREE short fiction to us. Under the shadow of the FCC’s impending decision as to whether or not net neutrality will continue, these all-you-can-read buffets taste even sweeter. Read on for one potential menu of all this goodness.


The Summer 2014 issue of the Paris Review is out on newsstands, and the editors are offering a new Zadie Smith story from the issue online until the end of this month. Smith’s story “Big Week” hovers mostly around Michael Kennedy McRae, a recently divorced ex-cop-turned-cabbie in Boston. But like an impatient listener at the radio dial, Smith’s point of view veers just left or right of McRae at crucial points in the narrative, picking up the flotsam and jetsam of those he encounters, and by the end, the truth-telling heart of those who know him best.

Main course: 

As the rest of the Internet erupts with their must-read recommendations for the recently opened New Yorker archives, we thought we’d offer a few favs of our own from their fiction vault:

The Years of My Birth,” by Louise Erdrich (from the January 10, 2011 issue)
Come on! With a first sentence like this, just try to stop reading:

The nurse had wrapped my brother in a blue flannel blanket and was just about to hand him to his mother when she whispered, “Oh, God, there’s another one,” and out I slid, half dead.

Sun City,” by Caitlin Horrocks (from the October 24, 2011 issue)
Southwestern knickknacks and the difficulty of expressing one’s sexuality and love across generational and language gaps—embrace the awkward.

Someone,” by Alice McDermott (from the January 30, 2012 issue)
Time travel back to 1937 to learn the root of some hard-won dating advice:

Here’s a good rule: If he looks over your head while you’re talking, get rid of him.”

Getting Closer,” by Steven Millhauser (from the January 3, 2011 issue)
Remember how it felt as a kid to take that first swim of the summer? If not, let Millhauser remind you.

The Kid,” by Salvatore Scibona (from the June 14, 2010 issue)
Behind every child crying in an airport, there is a story. Follow Mr. Scibona across continents to hear this one.

And, not a story, but for those days when you think the writing life is too hard and you feel in need of inspiration, try “The Hunger Diaries,” magical excerpts from the early journals of the late short fiction great Mavis Gallant.


While certainly, the Amazon/Hachette war may well be more complicated than it appears at first glance, Hachette at least is doing what it can to turn this battle into a win. For example, take their decision to offer a free summer sampling of chapters from some of their bestselling fiction (and nonfiction). That’s right, been wanting to get a sneak peek of Megan Abbott’s The Fever, Edan Lepucki’s California, or Stephan Eirik Clark’s Sweetness #9? You can sample a bite of each via iTunes or Google Play, and then walk yourself to your local bookstore to pick up the ones that grab you.

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 →