Friday, April 18, 2014

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Sometimes, Furious Readers, it seems as though Mr. Bueller couldn't have been more right. As hours slip by unnoticed, and the days just don't feel as long as they once were, it can sometimes be hard to keep pace with all the books on our shelves. Some days the only thing we can make time for is something with a little more brevity. But rest assured we need never sacrifice quality for length. There are some works out there that can do just as much in twenty pages as others can do hundreds. 

So for those of you looking to find a quick read, we are going to be putting together a few posts just for you, filled with short stories and novellas worth taking a little literary detour to enjoy.

I'm up first, and here are my selections:

Ursula by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Clocking in at just 72 pages, this graphic novel could easily be read in a single lunch break, and what better time to do it. Ursula is a contemporary fairy tale filled with romance and magic. The perfect escape from the office break room. And though it's one of the twin's first graphic novels, you can easily see why they've grown to become such popular artists within the contemporary comic scene.

Six to Eight Black Men by David Sedaris
There are countless David Sedaris stories that could have made it on this list, all of them hilarious, none of them needing more than an hour to read. But there's something about Six to Eight Black Men that makes it stand out from the rest of his work. The way Sedaris captures the American abroad, fish out of water, mentality is as endearing as it is absurd.

The Mire by Becky Cloonan
Since it's only 24 pages, The Mire, like most comics, is the type of story you can pick up and read in no time flat. But The Mire is also the type of book you could spend hours flipping through, getting lost in the artwork.  The second in a trilogy of stand alone comics written, illustrated, and self-published by Cloonan, each one comes highly recommended. In fact the followup, Demeter, was just nominated for an Eisner award for best single issue. So that should speak to the quality of Cloonan's work on these comics.

EPICAC by Kurt Vonnegut
A story of unrequited love the likes of which only Vonnegut could tell. EPICAC is equal parts heartwarming and tragic. The story of a computer tasked with writing poetry to help one of his technicians win the heart of a co-worker only to fall in love himself. Like most of Vonnegut's work, this is a modern day parable that strikes at some really heavy themes using some rather atypical tropes.

Nicholas Was... by Neil Gaiman
Nicholas Was... is part of Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors collection, and truthfully there are a lot of stories in the book that could have made the list. Even within the introduction he tells an incredibly haunting love story about a young married couple. But for all the great choices we have, if you're going for brevity you can't go wrong with a story like this. And as it's only 100 words, I won't say much more, to avoid spoilers.

Brave and the Bold #33 by J. Michael Straczynski
To fully appreciate the impact this single issue of Brave and the Bold can have, it's important to understand its context. And for those out there familiar with The Killing Joke by Allan Moore, Brave and the Bold 33 will be a punch in the gut like you wouldn't believe. Starting out as just a fun Superheroin's night on the town, it becomes a heartbreaking look at how even the strongest among us can feel weak in the wake of unavoidable tragedy.

Americca by Aimee Bender
For anyone unfamiliar with Bender's work, Americca is a perfect example of what makes her such a great writer. It tells the story of a family being reversed robbed by unknown forces, and how they deal with random items appearing in their house with no explanation whatsoever. Bender's writing has a great carefree quality to it, while tackling a lot of really interesting themes.

The Last Musketeer by Jason
Jason has been using his distinctive brand of anthropomorphic storytelling to bend genres for over a decade. Along the way he's created some really memorable graphic novellas. The Last Musketeer takes the classic Alexander Dumas story and mixes in a healthy dosing of aliens and robots.

The Skylight Room by O Henry
O Henry wrote somewhere around 600 short stories which makes it kinda hard to pick a favorite. So instead I picked one of his lesser known stories that I thought really embodied all the things I liked about his work. The Skylight Room isn't New York City at its best, but O Henry still makes you want to be a part of it and join everyone else on that stoop before turning in for the night. And his signature twist ending in this story offers just enough optimism to assure you things are going to be okay.

Deplayed Replays by Liz Prince
The followup to her award winning Will You Still Love me if I Wet the Bed, Liz Prince's Delayed Replays reads like a dysfunctional newspaper comic strip in the best way possible. It captures the intimacy and absurdity of life in your twenties, those moments that are easily relatable (even if, in some cases, we won't always admit to them).
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