by Kelly Link (2005).
This one has been on my radar since before it was even published. Then I actually read a Kelly Link story ("The Faery Handbag," in The Faery Reel), and I cried and knew that I had to read more. I read a bunch of other stuff, then finally bought the book earlier this year, started it, put it down, came back and finished it in one night.
These stories are absolutely amazing. Heartbreaking. Simple, spare, intense. Weird. I don't know that I can describe them in more than single word sentences. They pull you along, you can't make sense of them but it doesn't matter--the images and ideas are so beautiful, so resonant, that you never really stop to question.
My favorite was the title story, which deals with a group of friends and their love of an underground TV show called The Library (which is like Buffy on crack), a boy who inherits a phone booth and Vegas wedding chapel, and his father who writes books about giant spiders.
Small Beer Press has made Link's first story collection, Stranger Things Happen, available as a free download.