There have been an unusual number of good short story collections released this year. Here are three I recommend:
Jess Walter is best known for his novel Beautiful Ruins, but I am partial to his short stories (see also: We Live in Water). These are full of joy and personality, but don't worry, the joy is of the jaded Gen X variety. Many of them are looks back at adolescence and young adulthood. Some were unexpectedly funny (Magnificent Desolation, about a middle school science teacher; Town & Country, about an unconventional senior facility; and The Way the World Ends, which has so much going on that it's indescribable). My favorite, though, was Drafting, about a woman finding solace in an unreliable ex-boyfriend.
I've been waiting on this collection since reading the story Malliga Homes in the 2021 O'Henry Prize anthology (annual anthologies are a great way to find new authors that you like!). A Life in America, with its competing interpretations of a professor’s relationships with his graduate students, and Nature Exchange, about the aftermath of a school shooting, were my favorites, but they were all beautifully written and affecting. These are stories that twist your heart.
The good stories here were REALLY good. They were a mix of near future (Out There, The Last Woman on Earth, A Scale Model of Gull Point, and Big Sur) and eerie present-day stories (Tahoe, Doe Eyes, and The Turkey Rumble). The narrative voice (often a no-nonsense young woman) was in my opinion the most outstanding thing about this collection. Several of them also had shocking last lines that blew me away.