Everybody deserves a break sometimes. Especially if you’re in the business of putting up content day in and day out—or, in the case of Cal Morgan’s Fifty-Two Stories, week in and week out. You have to give the man plenty of credit: His weekly series of excellent short stories by fine contemporary writers has been ongoing since January of 2009. That’s a lot of good work, which bespeaks a lot of behind-the-scenes reading, sifting, and schmoozing. When Fifty-Two Stories went on hiatus after the first twelve of 2011, winding up with Tom Franklin’s sweet “Alaska,” I missed my weekly fix but at the same time was nothing but sympathetic.
So imagine my surprise and delight to see that not only is Fifty-Two Stories back, it wants to make up for lost time. Harper Perennial has just launched a new collection, Forty Stories, with work from its fabulous roster of writers, and the whole thing is available as a free download. Morgan edited the book, in fact—he’s Harper Perennial’s editorial director—so we know it’ll be up to Fifty-Two’s standards. He tells us:
Last year, after twelve stories, we took temporary leave. We owe you thanks, for your patience. We also owe you stories. Here they are. Forty new pieces of work, some rich, some strange, all surprising. Taken together, they fill me with awe.
And take a look at the lineup: Adam Wilson, Adetokunbo Abiola, Alan Rossi, Alexander Lumans, Ben Greenman, Blake Butler, Brady Hammes, Brandon Hobson, Catherine Lacey, D. Foy, Daniel Browne, David Backer, David Williams, Eliezra Schaffzin, Elizabeth Crane, Eric Raymond, Greg Bardsley, Jamie Quatro, Jess Walter, Jim Hanas, Joseph Scapellato, Karon Luddy, Kayden Kross, Kelli Ford, Kyle Minor, Laura Jane Faulds, Lindsay Hunter, Matt Stewart, Matthew Norman, Mesha Maren, Mitchell S. Jackson, Nathan Oates, O. A. Lindsey, Paula Younger, Roxane Gay, Scott McClanahan, Shane Jones, Tessa Mellas. This year alone I’ve read some excellent work by Wilson, Butler, Walter, Norman, and Gay, and I’m very stoked to see what these previously unpublished stories have to offer. It’s midsummer, about as far across the calendar from Christmas as we’re going to get, so here’s a little gift to tide everyone over. Crank up the AC, pour a little vodka-and-Pompelmo, and enjoy—it may not be a whole year’s worth of stories, but this should get you through the week just fine.