Seven short stories that blew my mind last year, number seventeen will SURPRISE you, number twelve will ASTOUND you, and you will never believe what happened next, and what I learned.

So let’s celebrate short stories, the best of all the forms. Seven stories from last year that I loved and I think you might love too. Give them a read and that.

Mike Fox – The Violet Eye 

You are playing a dangerous game, promoting Nightjar Press, because each story is limited to 200 copies. If you let too many people in on the secret, you end up risking not getting a copy yourself. I already have three gaps in my own collection (Small Animals by Alison Moore, The Safe Children by Tom Fletcher, and Getting out of There by M John Harrison, if anyone has a spare copy and/or a generous heart) and I don’t want any more. On the other hand, if you don’t help spread the word at all, they might not sell enough copies to want to carry on. The idea of no new Nightjars is infinitely worse than missing one though, so…

All four of the stories published last year are still for sale on their website. I recommend you buy all of them (and the others that haven’t sold out too) but if I had to pick one from last year (and I don’t, not really, but I have anyway) it would be Mike Fox’s The Violet Eye, which is a proper heart squeezer.

Sarah-Clare Conlon – Flight Path 

Dostoyevsky Wannabe’s Manchester collection was chock-a-block of goodness but my favourite was the story in two parts by the short short story writing genius that is Sarah-Clare Conlon. The whole collection can be bought for the seductively reasonable price of four pounds by clicking here.

Nafissa Thompson-Spiers – Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, and No Apology

A broken up, fourth wall breaking masterpiece. Part of the collection Heads of the Colored People, which you can buy in bookshops and the like.

Christina Wood Martinez – The Astronaut

Published in issue 142 of Granta, a perfect blending of the mystical and the domestic. Lovely.

Joe Dunthorne – All The Poems Contained Within Will Mean Everything To Everyone

There is no escaping the fact that Rough Trade Books are quite expensive, but then again, you do get what you pay for, I suppose. I certainly didn’t begrudge the cover price of this very funny, cleverly structured, story.

Curtis Sittenfeld – The World Has Many Butterflies

This was the ‘it’ collection of 2018, high on many a book-of-the-year list, but if you haven’t given it a go yet, allow me to be the nth person to nudge you toward it. It’s very good indeed.

Wendy Erskine – His Mother

This is the only story on the list I haven’t read, having only heard it read on a Radio 4 thing that is no longer available on the iplayer. I think it is in her collection published by Stinging Fly, but I haven’t bought it yet, so I don’t know for sure. Anyway, if you can find a copy, words on page or voice in the air, give it a read, or a listen.