When I read a collection of short stories, I rarely read them one after another as I would chapters in a novel.
After all, these are individual stories to be savored and admired.
I either read just one a day, deliberately limiting my reading time or I read a short novel by another author in between my readings.
I want to take a break from the short stories so their narratives don’t run into each other but not so long of a break that I’ve lost the connection with the collection itself. Something I can read in a few days.
Recently I read Alice Monroe’s story “Fiction” in her collection Too Much Happiness. I thought about how it related to the first story I had read in the collection. The themes of young love, of loss, of rebuilding one’s life. I thought about how the moods of the pieces were different. Then I thought about how the story related to the title piece itself, Too much happiness.
In between the two short stories I read Han Kang‘s The Vegetarian, a fascinating, disturbing, intriguing novel. A short novel that allowed me to return to Monroe in a few days but still transported me into a completely different world.
My ‘in between’ reading may be influencing how I read the short stories, of course. But Roland Barthes said our reading is always influenced by what we’ve previously read so I will just have to make peace with that.