Short Stories To Savor On A Winter Weekend Author Hortense Calisher once called the short story "an apocalypse in a teacup." Critic Jane Ciabattari presents her favorite mini-apocalypses of 2012, from veteran authors like Sherman Alexie to newcomer Claire Vaye Watkins, who combines a unique voice and a shadowed family history in her debut collection.


Short Stories To Savor On A Winter Weekend

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


And those are not our only book recommendations as we approach 2013. If you like your storytelling compact, your bedtime stories short, Jane Ciabattari has just the thing. She's a book critic and the author of numerous short stories herself.

JANE CIABATTARI: My favorite definition of a short story comes from the master of the form Hortense Calisher, who calls it an apocalypse in a teacup.


CIABATTARI: I'm going to focus today on a collection by a newcomer. His name is Luis Jaramillo. This book is called "The Doctor's Wife," and it's 91 ultra-short chapters, some as brief as a sentence. They add up to a portrait of a family.


CIABATTARI: The doctor's wife, the title character, stays with me because, of course, she's the heart of the book. But the other person who stays with me is the child, John, who is, at 11 months old, considered a very smart baby. But by 18 months, he's not walking. It's just a heartbreaking scene of somebody dealing with a child who has a wasting ailment that she doesn't understand.


CIABATTARI: I would give this book to somebody who may not have a lot of time to read. I think it's easy to put by your bedside, it's easy to carry in your purse. You can read one or two stories and they stay with you, and you can pick up the thread and move forward.


WERTHEIMER: Jane Ciabattari is the author of "Stealing the Fire." You can find the rest of her list of the best short story collections of 2012 at

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.