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  • Short story celebration

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    Short stories get short shrift in our novel-obsessed literary culture. Publishers and booksellers are regularly bemoaning


    1. jude's avatar jude

      I love short stories - they're perfectly pert - they don't have to contain such depth of character as a novel or even have everything neatly sewn up at the end and I think they involve the reader much more and because of that stay with you long, long, long after they're over - like a brief encounter.

      Posted Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24
    2. ocky's avatar ocky

      A big-time publishing executive said at a conference recently that, given enough personal power, she'd publish a lot more books of short stories. But the novel is king, and so it gets all the attention. I agree with Ellie: I dip into them (a bite of David Malouf, a nibble of Amy Hempel) as a kind of palate-cleanser between meatier stuff. Which is not to say that short stories are just fluffy sorbets -- far from it!

      Posted Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24
    3. Ellie's avatar Ellie

      Thanks for flagging this up, Mark. Obviously applies to us as not only do we specialise in publishing novellas, we also have a fair few short story collections. I've made a note in my diary, although this is the weekend before I am set to start my MA course, so I suspect I may be a bit frantic.<br /> <br /> I love short stories, and think that their relative unpopularity is due in no small part to the fact that people read them as collections, rather than dipping in and reading one at a time. I generally have a collection of short stories on the go at the same time as a novel, and read only one story at a time if I want a quick fix. If I'm looking for something to hold my attention for a little longer, I'll pick up the novel.<br /> <br /> There was a suggestion (perhaps on the Guardian blog) that publishing practice is to blame for the unpopularity of the short story -- that stories should be published individually, as pamphlets or similar. I wouldn't go that far, partly because I think it's completely impractical and partly because in my view, the best collections of short stories work both individually and as parts of a whole ('Dubliners' springs to mind). That doesn't mean to say, however, that they should be read in lumps. Just that readers should have the self-discipline not to devour collections at a time and negate the individual effect of each story...<br /> <br /> We're republishing 'Bartleby' this month, incidentally...<br /> <br /> Ellie

      Posted Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

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