The next two collections in our Short Story Month series could fall under the category of the “novel-in-stories.” The Handsome Man by Brad Casey, and We All Need to Eat by Alex Leslie, are collections that offer a novel-like narrative by using linked stories to follow a single protagonist. Navigating new landscapes and confronting a range of conflicts over a span of several years, the stories develop full-bodied narratives about the experiences that make us who we are.
Read these if you like travelogues, deep dives into character development, or usually enjoy novels.
The Handsome Man by Brad Casey
Handsome Man is a collection of linked stories that follow several years of the life of a young man as he is drawn around the world: from Toronto to Montreal, New York, Ohio, New Mexico, British Columbia, Berlin, Rome, and Northern Ontario, along the way meeting hippies, healers, drinkers, movie stars, old friends, and welcoming strangers. He isn’t travelling, however; he’s running away. But as far and fast as he runs, the world won’t let him disappear, and each new encounter and every lost soul he meets along this journey brings him closer and closer to certain truths he’d locked away: how to trust, how to live in this world, and most of all, how to love again.
We All Need to Eat by Alex Leslie
We All Need to Eat is a collection of linked stories from award-winning author Alex Leslie that revolves around Soma, a young Queer woman in Vancouver. Through thoughtful and probing narratives, each story chronicles a sea of change in Soma’s life. Lyrical, gritty, and atmospheric, Soma’s stories refuse to shy away from the contradictions inherent to human experience, exploring one young person’s journey through mourning, escapism, and the search for nourishment.
The stories slipstream through Soma’s first three decades, surfacing at moments of knowing and intensity. The far-reaching impact and lasting reverberations of Soma’s family’s experience of the Holocaust scrapes up against the rise of Alt Right media. While going through a break-up in her thirties, Soma becomes addicted to weightlifting and navigates public mourning on Facebook. As a child, Soma struggles to cope with her mother’s sorrow by becoming fixated on buying her a lamp for seasonal affective disorder. A friend’s suicide prompts a drinking game that takes mortality as its premise. But alongside the loss in Soma’s life is a pursuit of intimacy, resounding in the final story’s closing words: “Look me in the eye.”