Arts and Culture

Eight of the Best Short Stories Set in Colorado

Here are eight of our favorite short stories set in Colorado.
Here are eight of our favorite short stories set in Colorado. Marketa, Flickr
Author Lorrie Moore once described a novel as a marriage, while short stories function more like brief affairs. Colorado has inspired many literary hookups, some passionate and some bleak. Here's a list of short stories set in Colorado that you can easily read on your next lunch break.

"Colorado"
Ann Beattie

In this story, which first appeared in the New Yorker in 1976, weed-soaked Ivy League dropouts from back east idealize an imagined snowy Colorado. While their lives hit a mid-twenties dead end, the answer seems easy: head west. Though written over forty years ago, this story feels populated by characters you've encountered recently at the dog park.

"502"
Lucia Berlin

This story details the experiences of an alcoholic who, oddly enough, feels Boulder just isn't boozy enough. Throughout her life, author Lucia Berlin struggled with addiction, health and money problems, living for a brief time in a trailer park on the edge of Boulder. She died in 2004, and in 2015 finally gained literary fame for her short stories when A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories was published by FSG.

“Private Debts/ Public Holdings”
Kent Haruf

Like his novels set in the fictional town of Holt, in this story Kent Haruf’s terrain is the broad, grassy plains of eastern Colorado. An abandoned wife repays the debt of her long-gone husband through the only means she has left: her body. Bursting with humanity, Haruf’s depiction of small-town life in Colorado is unparalleled in literature. He died in 2014.


click to enlarge Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve - FISHERGA/FLICKR
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Fisherga/Flickr
“Clare”
James B. Hemesath

Told in journal entries spanning from February to June, a husband notes events, both mundane and profound, stemming from his wife’s cancer diagnosis. Salida, Pueblo, Denver, San Luis, Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and much more all get play here. At times the story feels like a map through southern Colorado, one that is dog-eared by the chaos of illness.

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