Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Linked Stories

I've been dwelling on linked stories lately; you know, the kind of book where a minor character in one story appears as the main character in another, or some plot method is used to link up seemingly disparate stories. I tend to really like this type of fiction, with the possible exception of stories that are themed around "who owns this object," the most prominent of which I remember disliking being E. Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes.

Recent books in this vein that I've liked include Joan Silber's Ideas of Heaven: a ring of stories and David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. My friend Ami is currently writing a beautiful collection of linked stories, two of which I've felt lucky to get to read in (close to final) draft versions. Maybe I'm just a copycat, but it occurred to me recently that if I find the form so appealing, maybe I should try it myself. I have a whole bunch of different fictions started and abandoned; much of what those files contain is crap, but there are parts that I simply know are good. And I'd like to rescue them from the rest of the gunky story in which they are wallowing--to steal Joan Silber's term "a ring of stories" might be just the form I've been looking for.

So, I'm looking for more quality examples of this form of fiction to read; I'm planning on creating some writing time for myself this summer (maybe I'll be crisis managing a little less with Ian out of school, though that might be naive of me to think so), so until I have liberated that space in my schedule, I plan to pursue a study of the form. I'm looking for suggestions for linked stories that you have read--whether you enjoyed them or hated them (I learned a lot from Accordion Crimes though I didn't enjoy reading it); please send the titles my way.