Saturday, May 21, 2011

Short Stories

The short story is an invaluable vehicle for writers to develop their craft. In terms of voice, style and structure, the form allows for some extreme variation, which may not be capable of being sustained successfully in the lengthier novel form.

I prefer the longer versions of short stories, my favourite works all possess juicy narratives, so if it's under 2000 words I often feel unsatisfied. I suppose I like some meat in my reading and titbits do not suffice.

With more time being taken up these day in social media and the many varieties of 'sit-down' leisurely entertainment, the short story could potentially undergo its own popular revival. Novelettes and short stories may fill a reading void as they're a great way to sink into some reading without any serious time-commitment.

As for flash fiction, it certainly has its place, but it is not a genre I take great gratification in. I might think a piece is clever but (with a few exceptions) I never seem to recall the story at a later date— there's no 'wow factor' a few months afterwards. For me, flash fiction feels more like a writing exercise rather than a 'true' story.

There are so many exceptional exponents of the short form: from the realists, like Nam Le and Richard Yates and Alice Munro, to the quirkier Margaret Atwood and John Cheever, the dark and suspenseful Joyce Carol Oates,  the often slipstream Robert Shearman, to humorous satirists like Will Self and George Saunders, and sci fi writers like Michael Swanwick and Nalo Hopkinson.  There are hundreds of others too, both new and old, that are rewarding writers.

I see more and more anthologies at bookstores. Perhaps the short story renaissance has already begun?

I'll be presenting ten short stories that I think fab reads. There are of course a myriad out there that I am yet to read or, regretfully, may never touch upon.

No comments:

Post a Comment