Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov
You can’t go wrong with reading a story by the master himself. A “Chekhovian” story is one which evokes a mood of introspection and frustration, and in many cases, the episodes of High Maintenance can be called Chekhovian. “Rachel,” “Genghis,” and “Geiger” especially. Read the simple but heartbreaking stories of Anton Chekhov to get the original Chekhovian flavor.
In this collection’s titular story, Carver’s narrator smokes dope with his visitor the blind man, so we can draw quite literal parallels to High Maintenance here. Carver’s stories evoke the poignant lives of ordinary people. Nothing much ever happens, but the clarity of Carver’s prose cuts to the quick, and that’s exactly what’s so difficult to bear.
A funny writer even as she probes the darkness of everyday life, Lorrie Moore crafts deft portrayals of all her characters and their foibles. See into the life of a man struggling with divorce as the U.S. prepares to invade Iraq, a teacher visited by a ghost, and two once-hopeful musicians facing regret.
You may have read Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winner A Visit From the Goon Squad, but have you read her first short story collection? Emerald City was published in 2007 and features eleven stories about characters who long for experiences out of the ordinary. They seek those experiences in China, Bora Bora, downtown Manhattan, and suburban Illinois.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
In eight stories, Nathan Englander asks provocative questions about modern life. The title story is inspired by Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” and features a dark question that arises between two Jewish couples having a drink together. This story sets the stage for an expansive collection that explores humankind’s simultaneous capacity for tenderness and evil.
This Is How You Lose Her
Here’s another linked collection for fans of Blichfeld and Sinclair’s series. New York Times-bestselling author Junot Diaz writes about the many lost loves of Yunior: Alma, Lora, Magdalena, and finally, the one true love of Yunior’s life. Kirkus called this collection “sharply observed and morally challenging.”
The Thing Around Your Neck
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adichie writes profoundly of characters in both Nigeria and America in this collection, which features a Nigerian girl moving to America for the first time and encountering loneliness, a medical student taking shelter from a riot with a poor Muslim woman, and a young mother who must deal with the reality of her husband’s mistress.
If you’re a fan of High Maintenance, the Vimeo web series that recently expanded into 30-minute HBO episodes, you know that it’s about a lot more than weed. Each episode is a glimpse into the interior life of a new character who is connected to The Guy, in a web of people who all buy from the same dealer, but rarely (if ever) connect with each other. Some of the stories told in High Maintenance are heartbreaking, while others are hysterical. Most of the time, an episode will hit on a poetic combination of comedy and tragedy. Co-creators Blichfeld and Sinclair are telling the literary short stories of the television world. So while you’re waiting for the next HBO season, why not continue peering into the unique lives of imagined characters by reading some short story collections?
Featured image: Courtesy of HBO