Saturday, May 12, 2012
Short Story Month 2012
Hooray, it's Short Story Month! As you may already know, we (um, that's the royal "we," meaning... me) love short stories here at Books, Personally. I would even venture to say that short stories have come to make up at least half of my reading since SSM2011. But it sounds like we short fiction fans are in the minority. Dan Wickett over at the Emerging Writers Network considers why Short Story Month is important, even necessary, in a world that idolizes the novel and rock-star novel writers, but perhaps undervalues and under-recognizes the incredible talent of writers of short fiction.
Why read short fiction? It's efficient, it's more tightly crafted, it's often more exciting, and more daring. It offers a more intense, but far briefer emotional involvement - probably inspiring thrill-seeking behavior in readers, changing their reading habits, and maybe their attention spans. The novel (or, at least some novels) begins to feel too long, too self-indulged (I remember reading Jeffery Eugenides' The Marriage Plot last fall and thinking, "all right, let's just move this along now, shall we?") In a humorous-but-so-true essay over at Atticus Books, Kevin Catalano, compares flash (i.e., very short) fiction to a ... flasher: "His unfortunate victim is made vulnerable to a quick, frantic peek, and is then left disoriented, forced to make sense of what she just saw. It’s the speed of the event that makes it so intense, and memorable." This rings true in many ways also for short fiction of longer lengths - though usually less with the disorientation. Short fiction can pack a lot of power. I am forever spoiled.
If you are looking for great short stories, I've reviewed many here, as well as at LitStack - among recent favorites, I highly recommend Megan Mayhew Bergman's Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Lysley Tenorio's Monstress, and Shann Ray's American Masculine. My colleagues over at LitStack also had some fantastic recommendations this week. Author and blogging colleague David Abrams has been featuring short stories recently on his blog, The Quivering Pen, including today's marvelous recommendations from author Bonnie Jo Campbell. Also check out the Story Sundays meme at NovelNiche (most recently, a smashing review of Sherman Alexie's "What You Pawn I Will Redeem") and Fat Books Thin Women. And many, many more.
Update: One more must-read source of great short story recommendations - Fiction Writers Review. (Thank you to author of wonderful short stories Erika Dreifus for bringing this glaring omission to my attention.)