Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Short Story Month: 2017—Part 13: The Short Story as a Literary Form

Short Story Month: 2017—Part 13: The Short Story as a Literary Form

Lorrie More:  “The commercial slick story has largely died out.  The stories we are left with are almost always all serious art.”

William Boyd:  “The well-written short story is not suited to the sound bite culture: it's too dense, its effects are too complex for easy digestion.”

Joyce Carol Oates:  She has said she doubts the 21st century will be as hospitable to the short story as the 19th and 20th, since the short story, unlike the novel, is "invariably literary."

Bret Anthony Johnson: “I think the reason short story collections don’t sell as well as novels is because they’re much more difficult to read.  Novels might require a longer commitment, but stories demand a deeper concentration and a more intense focus, and a lot of people would rather not exert themselves in that way”

Robert Stone:  “The short story is like a pitch in baseball.  It’s one continuous movement that ideally has to, like a pitch, break and then with a kind of retrospective inevitability end up in a catch’s mitt.  It’s a beautiful form when it works, but it’s very difficult.”

Claire Keegan: “ It’s very difficult. It’s very challenging. The level of intensity is very high. You’ve got to leave most of what could be said, out. It’s a discipline of omission. .. One of the things that is most difficult about the short story is that it seems easy. People think because it’s short, it’s minor, but if you take up your pen and try to write one you will find that it is otherwise. It is not a comforting genre. It’s not a comforting read. Often it can be quite a disturbing read. So, as Frank O’Connor said, there is something train-journey-ish about a novel, you can sit back and get into it, but the short story is more about holding your breath than breathing.”


James Chester said...

Why do comments on the demise of the short story always ignore genre fiction? The short story is alive and well in the worlds of genre fiction where it's always done well.

Charles May said...

What genres do you have in mind, James?

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