I think 2011 was the year of the novella for me. I read dozens of them. They're just about the perfect length of story for an e-reader, and when you can get your hands on a really special one in actual book form, all the better. Then there is the short story, which I continue to devour at every opportunity. So rather than try and squeeze one or two into my list of My 10 Favorite Novels, I thought I'd create a couple short lists of my favorite novellas and my favorite short story collections.
My 5 Favorite Novellas from 2011:
#5 Theatre of Curious Acts by Cate Gardner (Hadley Rille Books) - Cate's brain is a kaleidoscope of the fantastic, and this book was a prime example of just that.
#4 Gun by Ray Banks (Amazon Kindle) - I think it was Anthony Neil Smith who put me on track to discovering this gritty story about a young father-to-be looking for quick cash and trying to make it the only way he knows how--and it ain't honestly.
#3 Deathwatch by Lisa Mannetti (Shadowfall Publications) - This is actually a couple of novellas packaged together, but they're both really good and deserve a little tip of the hat. Of the two, my favorite is Sheila Na Gig, but you can't go wrong with either one.
#2 The Dead Man by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin (Amazon Kindle) - This series of novellas is on its sixth installment, originally self-published and now under the huge Amazon umbrella, this series started off strong with what is still my favorite of all six novellas, The Face of Evil. The eighth installment is due to be released on January 27th.
#1 Every Shallow Cut by Tom Piccirilli (Chizine Publications) - This book may have depressed me more than any other this year, but I was incredibly thankful to have read it all the same. The story of an author's fall from grace, seemingly powerless to stop his own life from falling apart a piece at a time, only to resort to finding his answer with a gun and a visit to his estranged brother. A morose and haunting piece of work.
Honorable mentions: Sparrowhawk by Paul Finch; The Neighborhood by Kelli Owen; Temporary Monsters by Ian Rogers
My 5 Favorite Anthologies and Short Story Collections from 2011:
#5 Cthulhurotica edited by Carrie Cuinn (Dagan Book)- Tentacle porn it is not. Well, there was one story as I recall--anyway, this was an oddly entertaining batch of Lovecraftian erotica. Wouldn't have figured I'd like it as much as I did, but there you go.
#4 The Zombie Feed Vol. 1 edited by Jason Sizemore (Apex Publications) - After being entertained by the first volume of stories from The Zombie Feed, I sure hope there's a second volume in 2012.
#3 Shock Totem #4 edited by K. Allen Wood (Shock Totem) - After buying the digital edition of ST#1, I won #4 from Lee Thompson and enjoyed it even more. I think #5 is out this month. Should be great.
#2 Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits by Cate Gardner (Strange Publications) - Just take that snippet of praise I gave Cate for Theatre of Curious Acts and apply it here.
#1 Supernatural Noir edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse Books) - I'm never let down when I see Ellen Datlow's name on the book cover. Throw in two more of my favorite words, Supernatural and Noir, and this was a recipe for success.
Honorable mentions: Arcane: Penny Dreadfuls #1 by Nathan Shumate (editor); Push of the Sky by Camille Alexa; and The Red Penny Papers by KV Taylor (editor)