Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Short Story Month 2017—Part 6: Short Story Writers on Time in the Story

Short Story Month 2017—Part 6: Short Story Writers on Time in the Story

Julio Cortezar:  The short-story writer knows that he can’t proceed cumulatively, that time is not his ally.  His own solution is to work vertically, heading up or down in literary space.

Maurice Shadbolt:  The real challenge is to pull as much of life as a story can bear into the fewest possible pages: to produce, if possible, that hallucinatory point in which time past and time future seems to co-exist with time present, that hallucinatory point which to me defines the good or great short story..."

           Russell Banks:  The short story and the novel bear greatly different relations to time. The novel, I think, has a mimetic relation to time. The novel simulates the flow of time, so once you get very far into a novel, you forget where you began—just as you do in real time. Whereas with a short story the point is not to forget the beginning. The ending only makes sense if you can remember the beginning. I think the proper length for a short story is to go as far as you can without going so far that you have forgotten the beginning.

Jayne Anne Phillips:  “I think that stories in reality are often circular; past and present and future are mixed up in terms of the way we think; and the closer a story can get to that—the more completely it can represent that—the more timeless the story becomes.

David Means:  In a short story you’d better do something with time or it’ll feel short.

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