Fiction writers are often told by agents, editors, and even fellow writers that contemporary readers are not interested in short story collections, and that if one intends to write stories and assemble them into a book, they must be linked and resemble a novel. What is lost in this stampede towards the novel-in-stories is breadth. The great short story writers demonstrate range—exploring themes through an array of characters from a multitude of backgrounds, ethnicities, social classes, and education levels without having to grasp the handrails of a unifying narrative throughline.
Amina Gautier is fast becoming one of those great short story writers. Her first collection about troubled teens, entitled At-Risk, won the Flannery O’Connor Award. Now We Will Be Happy, a collection about the lives of Afro-Puerto Ricans, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. And now, Gautier returns with The Loss of All Lost Things, the winner of the Elixir Press Fiction Award. The most impressive aspect about the collection is not its theme, or the deftness with which it’s handled—it’s Gautier’s range.