Dive into these story collections by contributors to Alta Journal. In this category, which appears in a special guide in our Fall 2021 issue, are works by Tod Goldberg, Denise Hamilton, and Vanessa Hua, and a spotlight on author Carribean Fragoza.
Where You’re All Going consists of four novellas about four characters suffering from disillusionment, grief, loss, and isolation. In one story, a young couple navigates the shock of an unexpected pregnancy; in another, a widow becomes infatuated with an arrogant, self-righteous man. From the imagination of Joan Frank, Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction, come these tales that reveal the hidden motivations and desires of the soul. Sarabande Books, February 2020, 234 pages, $16.95 paperback
In The Low Desert, a collection about crime, the reader encounters a “goon” who goes to extreme lengths to look out for his favorite professor, a cocktail waitress who marries a murderer, a barfly dressed as a clown, and other characters navigating the darker sides of sunny cities. One of them, first introduced in Tod Goldberg’s Gangsterland, is Sal Cupertine, whose adventures continue in these pages, adding depth to a world teeming with gangsters, con men, and normal people caught in bad situations. Counterpoint Press, February 2021, 304 pages, $26 hardcover
Crime novelist Denise Hamilton gathers 14 stories by 14 authors, including herself, to imagine alternate timelines and future possibilities for Los Angeles in this anthology of speculative fiction. Featuring public spaces walled off for the wealthy, a future with no seasons, and black holes in residential homes, the tales in Speculative Los Angeles take place in distinct L.A. neighborhoods, which ground them in realistic settings as they vary from the fantastical to the paranormal to the simply speculative. Akashic Books, February 2021, 272 pages, $16.95 paperback
Vanessa Hua builds on her 2016 collection of short stories with this reissue of Deceit and Other Possibilities. The tales follow Mexican American and Asian American immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area as they balance the expectations of their native countries, their families, and their adopted homeland with their own hopes and motivations. Counterpoint Press, March 2020, 304 pages, $16.95 paperback
In this short story collection, Jim Lewis tells four separate tales, about a photographer, a grad student, a shopkeeper, and an orphan who wander New York City for various reasons: One of them, suffering from heartbreak, contemplates suicide. Another roams the streets at night to reacquaint herself with the city after seven years abroad. Although the characters are unrelated, themes of permanence and community bind the stories in Ghosts of New York together. West Virginia University Press, April 2021, 300 pages, $22.99 paperback
The Gnome Stories is a dark examination of the ways that obsessions control our lives. Ander Monson’s characters live in an apocalyptic world of explosions and panic, yet their lives are also filled with ordinary obligation. An urban legend about a garden gnome shows up multiple times in this collection, as do tales of humans who push natural limits, torturing their bodies and others’—for aesthetics, for pleasure, or to cause pain. Graywolf Press, February 2020, 176 pages, $16 paperback
A drug dealer dressed up like Captain Kangaroo, a couple with marital problems who go to the movies so they don’t have to go home, and a family mourning their dead uncle are among the colorful characters populating the 44 stories and novella in Maggie Brown & Others. Many of these very short stories are concerned with how decisions made on a whim can haunt people for years and even generations. Back Bay Books, July 2020, 336 pages, $16.99 paperback