The short story is an infinitely variable and elastic thing, able to accommodate almost any type of narrative. This mutability may be the key to its survival and, judging by these two new collections, its continuing ability to astonish and delight. A short story can be lean or expansive, encompass whole worlds or deliver truths in an electrifying micro-second. At its best, the form deepens our grasp on what it is to be human in ways that no other art form quite duplicates. New works by Nathan Englander and Helen Simpson capture this variability with a range of entertaining and technically proficient stories.