Many inveterate readers are looking for an epic journey that will take them to enchanted lands or forbidden planets or, if they are Michael Connelly fans, to rugged Los Angeles. But others, perhaps longtime fans of Edgar Allan Poe, Sherwood Anderson, and John Cheever, prefer to immerse themselves in beautifully crafted short stories that often have delightful twists. Kirkus Indie recently reviewed three different short story collections and we look forward to more standout short fiction in 2022.

In Better Davis and Other StoriesPhilip Dean Walker explores showbiz in the early 1980s, when gay entertainers took to the limelight while dealing with the specter of AIDS. The author mixes fictional characters with real-life figures, including Elizabeth Taylor, Maureen Stapleton, Natalie Wood, Michael Bennett and Jim J. Bullock, co-star of the TV comedy Too close for comfort† “Rich, elegiac meditations on art, sex and death,” writes our reviewer.

E.L. Jefferson’s Faces of Evil focuses on sinister events that affect its predominantly black cast. The disturbing characters range from three robbers targeting a mansion to a rude doctor who smokes, spews racial tirades, has a liquor cabinet in his office, and specializes in hard love. Themes include retaliation, betrayal, vigilante and infidelity. Our critic calls these “addictive, terrifying” stories “a memorable collection of provocative horror.”

A small town in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina in 1999 serves as the edgy setting for the 12 linked stories in Michael Amos Cody’s A Twilight Reel† The stories revolve around a pastor who picks up a knife-wielding hitchhiker, a hapless college professor coping with a falling marriage and a senile woman, and two family members who watch workers turn a worn-out church into a mosque. According to our reviewer, “The stories all sing on their own, but it’s in harmonizing characters and events as they appear in multiple stories that the real joy of the collection is found.”

Myra Forsberg is an Indie editor.