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Old 05-21-2010, 10:55 AM   #1
Sylver
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need recommendations for contemporary short stories

Hi,

I need some recommendations on contemporary short story authors or books. I am looking for something that is both interesting to read and helpful for learning modern American English for my friends in China who are college English majors (US equivalent of high school level of English in general) and want to improve. I previously recommended some of W. S. Maugham's short stories and they loved those and asked me for more.

Basically, I would love to have a short story writer that resembles Maugham in the style but more contemporary and ideally an American, so here is roughly what I am looking for:

1. It must reflect modern but structured American English, a little bit colloquial is OK, but not too heavy slang usage or dialects pertaining to a particular locale or social class. They already read quite some Poe, Twain, Jack London, Washington Irving, etc in Chinese colleges, so no such classic American authors, they emphasized "contemporary" - hopefully in the last decade or two.

2. It must be short - I know some so-called short stories can be as long as 100+ pages nowadays, but I am looking for something less than 10 pages yet have enough meat for language learning purpose.

3. Ideally, these are vignettes that embodies the same wisdom, wit and detached observations of human nature similar to the ones Maugham wrote half a century ago. A broad cultural background setting will be nice but not necessarily travel or international settings as Maugham's stories, as they are still more interested in learning modern American culture/language.

4. Some suspense is OK, but they are looking for light-hearted readings, so no horror stories - they've tried some Stephen King and Dean Koontz I recommended, can't say they like those and I don't know myself if King and Koontz have any humorous lighter stories that are short enough.

5. Ideally, one or two authors would be good, but if it is hard to find a particular author, a compilation of stories by several or a dozen writers with similar style will also do.

6. Electronic versions would be a plus - they have Sony readers (I am still not sure how exactly purchase the story in the US and pass on to them), but Kindles wont do. I don't have any issue buying hard copies and ship to them.

7. Finally, does anyone know if "The Best American Short Stories of the Century" currently selling on Amazon would be a good candidate that meets the above?

Many many thanks. As I am not a native English speaker myself and don't read much, it is always a pain each time they asked me for reading recommendations for English books.

Last edited by Sylver; 05-21-2010 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 05-22-2010, 07:22 PM   #2
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C'mon, guys, nobody can recommend anything at all?
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:36 AM   #3
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I just came across your post (your English is very good).

Hopefully, others with more background in modern / contemporary American short stories will reply.

I saw this paperback at Amazon, but haven't read it.
American Short Story Masterpieces [Mass Market Paperback].

Quote:
3. Ideally, these are vignettes that embodies the same wisdom, wit and detached observations of human nature similar to the ones Maugham wrote half a century ago. A broad cultural background setting will be nice but not necessarily travel or international settings as Maugham's stories, as they are still more interested in learning modern American culture/language.
Modern American culture and language is even hard for me to define. The diversity, even in neighborhoods, is greater than it was 50 years ago. I can only think of books and not short stories, but these would be from varying points of view (based on family cultural background and living in different parts of the USA). I live here and notice that California is vastly different than the Midwest, which is totally different from Texas, which is totally different from New York. To me, America is almost like a land of many countries.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:15 AM   #4
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Many thanks, dreams, based on Amazon reviews, it does sound a better option to the "The Best American Short Stories of the Century" that I had in mind. Will check it out myself first.

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Old 05-24-2010, 08:44 AM   #5
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Raymond Carver and John Cheever, along with John O'Hara.

Also Haruki Murakami.




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Old 05-24-2010, 10:09 AM   #6
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Thanks, UntreedReads and Dr. Drib, will check them out. Haruki Murakami is very popular in China, but never thought about his works in English, did he write in English? and if it's translation, then there comes question as to which translation to pick up.

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Old 05-24-2010, 06:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sylver View Post
Many thanks, dreams, based on Amazon reviews, it does sound a better option to the "The Best American Short Stories of the Century" that I had in mind. Will check it out myself first.
Thanks for the recommendation, might check into this one
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Old 05-24-2010, 07:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylver View Post
Thanks, UntreedReads and Dr. Drib, will check them out. Haruki Murakami is very popular in China, but never thought about his works in English, did he write in English? and if it's translation, then there comes question as to which translation to pick up.
His works are translated into English by two (mainly) excellent translators, according to academics who know Japanese. (I honestly can't remember if he's translated any of his short stories into English, since my First Editions are all in the United States.)

However, Murakami is also a translator and has translated Raymond Carver's works into English. He loves Carver's writings.

It just now occured to me that you might want look at F. Scott Fitzgerald's work. I've made about 80 short stories available here on MobileRead, in the LRF [Sony] format.


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Old 05-25-2010, 12:57 PM   #9
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Thanks, Dr. Drib, I just downloaded The Great Gatsby and loved how it looks on my prs 300, the font (is it Times New Roman?) looked sharp and the contrast looks so good on my pocket reader. Now the only thing I am not sure about: again, I may be just a little too paranoid on this - for language learning purpose, is the English not outdated (as most of his works are 80 years old)? I also heard people raving about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, although I have no doubt that those Holmes stories are beautifully written, but is the language used still current? These may be obvious for native speakers, but I for one, really cannot tell.
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