I'm probably not the only contrarian who gets a little blue in dreary December. To satisfy your inner miserablist streak, why not try some of these dark reads to match the rapidly encroaching darkness outside?
Tenth of December is a bleak but often hilarious collection of short stories blending the mundane and the surreal. George Saunders touches on themes of class, dysfunctional nuclear families and and the meaning of contemporary American life in these stories, which range from drug experiments set in a prison of the future to a family trying to keep up with their neighbors by hanging slaves in their garden.
For a more introspective and Irish take on misery, check out Dark Lies the Island, where stories are often told in first-person through a character's observations and regrets. From a father's amusing rants about his teenage daughter's boyfriend to the ponderings of an alcoholic doctor, Kevin Barry masters the art of internal dialogue and slang in this darkly comic collection.
Reasons to Live follows characters who seem to be looking for just that. Amy Hempel's minimalist prose captures emotional snapshots of characters in transition—watching a best friend die, taking over a veterinary practice, getting very good at winning contests. As they search for deeper meaning, Hempel is more interested in exploring their present state and its attendant dark humor than any resolution.
If you've felt grief or loss, or a touch of the seasonal affective disorder, then take heart—these stories are a powerful reminder that you are not alone.