On the other hand, hey, I’m 50. This is the third time I’ve gathered a decade’s stories. Let’s be clear about how much such introspection matters to the reader who’s either aboard or not aboard my “project” by now: likely, not bloody much.
Posts Tagged: short stories
“I hate literature,” wrote Varlam Shalamov in a 1965 letter. “I do not write memoirs; nor do I write short stories.”
Despite his claim, Varlam Shalamov would become one of the most prolific Russian writers, producing 147 short stories about life in the gulag....more
…short stories [are] a venerable form, but it’s diabolically hard to master. There’s a lot of apprenticeship in writing stories. And sometimes a story can take such a long time to write — I mean, months and months. … It’s only 10 or 15 pages, but still you got to get it right.
The Airship Daily examines the life of Horacio Quiroga.
In his work, Quiroga shows a morbid obsession with death and violence (see: “The Decapitated Chicken”), and a large part of this undoubtedly stems from his own life. The opening salvo came before he had even completed his first year of life: In 1879, his father, an official at the Argentine Consulate, was killed in a hunting accident.
Do aliens, once in love, ever break up? You’d have to hope so. It would be kind of creepy, all these aliens living monogamously to like age 9,000, making love in that slow, telepathic way they have. And afterward, they do that “brain meld” thing and put their “teeth” back in.
The digital era has brought on a new golden age of science fiction. Electronic books, self-driving cars, and video phones may not seem too fictional these days, but technology like the Internet has empowered all sorts of new distribution methods connecting sci-fi writing with the fans who support it. New science fiction magazines launch with crowd funding campaigns, while tools like podcasts make fandom even easier— and ultimately, it’s all about the fans:
Sci-fi and fantasy’s online success is down to the strength of its community.
I’ll say it: [“Idiots First”] is the most moving American story ever written. (Until I change my mind.)
They range from North American classics by Bernard Malamud and Alice Munro to work by Mexican author Juan Rulfo and murdered South African author Bessie Head....more
The Short Form, a website featuring literary excerpts and reading recommendations, is a true gift to readers and writers of short stories. Sarahana Shrestha and Peter Cavanaugh collaborate to catalogue their favorite reads in contemporary short fiction, and invite guests to list their own favorite stories....more
Alice Munro, a “master of the contemporary short story,” has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature.
The first Canadian to win, Munro told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
I think my stories have gotten around quite remarkably for short stories, and I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something that you played around with until you’d got a novel written.
“She had big brown eyes, long eyelashes, and a light brown mane and tail. It may not seem possible but I saw a shy smile on her lips. She tried to make believe that she didn’t notice me.”
At BOMB, an illustrated short story about a man falling in love with a horse, by artist Myron Kaufman. The story, Horse Scents, and its author, are introduced by filmmaker Charlie Kaufman, Myron Kaufman’s son....more
Winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, Josh Rolnick’s debut collection, Pulp and Paper reveals the crisp details that line the crises of our daily lives....more
The art world is a rough place, which is the practical thought behind art schools offering courses on grant-writing and portfolio building.
Still, even with the presence of these utilitarian courses, when embarking on your formative artistic education, how can you conceive of the difficulties ahead?...more
The brief unresolved narratives of Adam Ross’s new short story collection, Ladies and Gentlemen, show regular people with compelling problems....more
Ray Bradbury conjures up for me images of sun-drenched Nebraska meadows, autumn landscapes beset upon by Buick-sized ravens and dusty towns overrun by sinister carnivals. He reminds me of the childhood I never quite had except in my head.
He’s the writer I remember enjoying the earliest and now he’s ninety-years old and still working....more
“I do believe that literature and storytelling has a safe future. The medium is still being negotiated, but I believe that we evolutionarily developed to speak and use language, and as an extension of that I think there is an inherent need for human beings to tell stories and also to hear stories or perceive stories....more
My relationship with the book blogs has hit a snag. Today, we got in a throw-down fight, and I came pretty close to breaking some china.
It’s just that the blogs whine and worry and complain a lot, and they always seem to want to cheat on me with famous writers, like Martin Amis or David Foster Wallace or Marquis de Sade, and then it rubs off on me, and I end up whining and worrying and complaining more than they do, and then I stop liking myself....more
John Barry has a piece up at The Baltimore City Paper in which he argues that too many American short story writers are taught to try to mimic that famous last paragraph in James Joyce’s short story “The Dead.” And this just might be why no one reads short stories anymore....more
Tim O’Brien has a really brilliant article in The Atlantic in which he argues that the biggest problem with “unsuccessful stories” is, to put it quite simply, that “they are boring.” I couldn’t agree more.
O’Brien worries about the focus in writing workshops on believability and “verisimilitude.” For him, believability isn’t usually the problem. “The failure,” he says, “almost always, is one of imagination.”
Here’s a few of his ideas on what authors should strive for, some of which seem obvious, but all of which hearken back to some long lost idea of “storytelling” that focuses on keeping people’s attention and doing something with it:
“(I)nformational detail must function actively within the dynamic of a story.”
“(A) well-imagined story is organized around extraordinary human behaviors and unexpected and startling events, which help illuminate the commonplace and the ordinary.”
“Inventing a nifty, extraordinary set of behaviors for our characters is not enough....more
A few weeks ago, I argued that the Internet age was uniquely well suited to selling short story collections. A few commenters did not agree with what seemed to be implicit in my argument: the idea that the “short attention span” or “ADD” culture is in fact better for short stories....more
In a post last week titled More Crappy News for Short Story Writers, I lamented what I considered to be a lost opportunity for the big publishing houses. They could, I suggested, use similarities between good short story writing and good web copy to sell short story collections rather than deeming them a lost cause and refusing to publish them at all....more
“I have no confidence in being able to place a collection at this time in the world of publishing. Publishers don’t like to publish short story collections in general unless they are VERY high concept or by someone very strange or very famous or Indian....more