Some more thoughts on linked stories. Publishers like them, I think, because they can pose as novels, but are not as hard to get right as novels are. It's really difficult to take the same set of characters through 300+ pages of a single story. In a set of linked stories, the writer essentially has 10 or a dozen fresh starts -- all new characters, new ideas -- and can shake off whatever started to get tricky and bogged down in the last section. But for the very same reason, readers usually don't like them as much as novels. Instead of working through the tricky stuff in a surprising, satisfying way, the writer of linked stories gets to throw it all behind her and start on something new. And linked stories aren't even usually as good as regular stand-alone short stories, because they depend a little on the weight of what's around them. A lot of time, a linked story is really just a vignette.
Not that I think all collections of linked stories are awful, but I do resent publishers disguising them as novels -- they aren't. Fans of the genre should read Laura Hendrie's Stygo, an old favorite of mine.