Keith Rosson Recommends 5 Stunning Story Collections

Books are timeless. There’s no expiration date on literature. Here are a number of story collections – some released 6 months ago, others put out a number of years back – that remain as fresh and vibrant as the first time I read them. Funny, sad, brutal, tender – good stories encapsulate all of that. I hope to write as half as well as these folks.

Keith Rosson

1. The Fear of Everything by John McNally

McNally is one of those rare writers that can couple the absolute hilarity of life and its punchdrunk, deep-in-the-heart sadness, all in the span of a single page. A phenomenal literary collection, with some occasional sojourns into something very close to magical realism, which came as a wonderful surprise. Devastating, melancholy, and endlessly funny.

2. People Like You by Margaret Malone

One of the most spot-on, hilarious, quietly brilliant collections about love and family I’ve ever read. Without being bombastic and over the top, People Like You still made me laugh out loud a lot numerous times, which is a rarity.

3. Debris by Kevin Hardcastle

Violent, lyrical, staunchly literary stories about people on the lower rungs and the choices (or lack thereof) sometimes afforded them. I really loved the fact that the author never belittled poor folks, who make up the bulk of this collection. They were never flat characters, always struggling, always attempting to do the right thing, even if their version of the right thing included a somewhat warped version of masculinity or familial indebtedness.

4. In the Not Quite Dark by Dana Johnson

Hardly a misstep here. A searing, funny, tough as hell collection that explores race, class, sex, family and geography, and the big questions are tackled without coming across as cloying or overwrought. I wish I could write about Portland with the same vacillating combo of love and detachment that Johnson writes about Los Angeles.

5. Making Nice by Matt Sumell

Interconnected stories in the loose shape of a novel. While the main character’s grief and shortsightedness has transformed him into an unabashed asshole, Sumell writes like a damned acrobat here, jumping from laugh-out-loud humor to pathos and back in the space of a paragraph. One of the funniest books I’ve read in years.

Shameless plug time. My own story collection, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, is out now. My hope is that I’ve tackled those big, yawing, heartbreaking questions about the world with the same grace and clarity that these folks have. Thanks for checking this out.


GENRE: Collection / Speculative Fiction / Magical Realism / Literary


With Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson delves into notions of family, grief, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels. In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and in “High Tide,” a grieving man ruminates on his brother’s life as a monster terrorizes their coastal town. With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes a number of Rosson’s unpublished stories, as well as award-winning favorites.

BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press |Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith Rosson is the author of the novels The Mercy of the Tide (2017, Meerkat Press) and Smoke City (2018, Meerkat Press). His short fiction has appeared in Cream City Review, PANK, Redivider, December, and more. An advocate of both public libraries and non-ironic adulation of the cassette tape, he can be found at

AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter

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