Saturday, May 22, 2010

Does Any One Read Short Stories Anymore?

I started writing this post yesterday, but I was sick and decided to quit while I was ahead. Now, hopefully in a bit more coherent voice, I want to encourage all of you to read short stories!

Again, I was inspired by a lively debate over at BookEnds, LLC about whether novellas are too short to successfully convey a story. Some of the argument focused on whether publishers would buy something as short as a 30k-word novella. But in the comments section, I was incredibly surprised by the amount of people who said they never read short stories or novellas. Several even went so far as to say that it is impossible to get full characterization out of short-length stories.

I'm in love with the short story. I am the proud owner of 13 short story collections and am looking to expand (once I have money). I write short stories. It is possible to tell a compelling story, to fully bring out a character within the short story format. It sure isn't easy, obviously, because of the smaller amount of words you have to use.

READ SHORT STORIES! Your life will be better for it. Below I list a number of short stories that have impacted me. The list is by no means exhaustive. But it should suffice to silence you doubters. Go forth and read!

In no particular order:
"Refresh, Refresh" by Benjamin Percy
"A Good Man Is Hard To Find" by Flannery O'Connor
"The Lady with the Dog" by Anton Chekhov
"The School" by Donald Barthelme
"A Distant Episode" by Paul Bowles
"The Swimmer" by John Cheever
"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
"Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin
"The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish" by J.D. Salinger

PS: Be on the lookout for my "Lost" retrospective on Monday.

1 comment:

  1. I second your call to read short stories! Or in my case, listen to them. Some of my favorite podcasts are fiction based: New Yorker fiction (monthly), PRI selected shorts (weekly), and occasionally Classic Tales (also weekly).

    Thanks for dropping by! I'll look forward to perusing your retrospective on Lost though it may be hard for a Lost-cynic (who's seen so little of the show) to fully appreciate.

    I linked to your blog from mine.