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Check It Out: Hidden little gems at the library

October 16, 2010|Jana Colver

Short stories, those hidden little gems, have defined, entertained and reflected people's lives for many centuries. Cavemen painted stories of successful or memorable hunting trips on cave walls. Ancient Greeks and Romans produced hundreds of short stories about the gods and goddesses they worshipped, and their mythology is still widely read today. In Native American cultures, it has been common to gather around a wise storyteller who relays stories about animals and dreams often associated with the land. Stories told as well as written throughout time have never been extremely long or complicated, otherwise the listener or reader might become confused or lose interest. Hence, we have the beauty of the short story. Check out these shining jewels:

"Prizes: The Selected Stories of Janet Frame" by Janet Frame: One of New Zealand's most distinguished writers, Frame's book was published posthumously. It includes five short stories never published. These chosen pieces reflect her brilliant literary talent in which realistic situations are portrayed in a lyrical, magical style. Frame spent her early childhood years in various small towns in New Zealand and later began training as a teacher. Although she suffered psychological strains throughout her life, she won the Hubert Church Memorial Award, which at that time was one of the nation's most prestigious literary prizes.

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"The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff and Other Stories" by Joseph Epstein: This collection of 14 short stories depicts successful, contented Jewish men who find themselves in situations that test their character through complex love affairs, rivalries, and private disappointments. Set in Chicago, Epstein relays his characters' emotions in a distant, matter of fact manner. A native of Chicago himself, Epstein is an essayist, short story writer and editor and is best known as a former editor of the Phi Beta Kappa Society's "The American Scholar" magazine. He is also noted for his observations of American culture.

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