Friday, November 20, 2009

For the love of short stories

by Rachel

In an interview in today’s Wall Street Journal, Alice Munro talks about why she’s attracted to writing short fiction. “I used to write novels and I didn’t get anywhere,” she says. She then goes on to say that she’s now writing “some halfway in between sort of thing.”

Well, I love those halfway in between sort of things Munro writes. I’ve always been enthusiastic about reading short fiction because the author has to get down to business right away in developing the story, there’s no time to waffle on about unnecessary things and spend pages setting up elaborate scenes. I remember taking a short story class in college and finishing the course being amazed at how much effort actually goes into writing short fiction. So, short story writers are kind of like heroes to me. I always like to keep a collection of short stories on the side while I’m reading a novel--I have to keep my reading options open!

So, having said that, any suggestions for Thanksgiving short story reading?


  1. All Things All At Once: New And Selected Stories, Lee K. Abbott

    A master short-story writer.

  2. I always have a short story collection on the side, too. Right now: Welding with Children by Tim Gautreaux, and selected Wallace Stegner. REcently read Munro's collection Runaway and definitely felt the halfway in between sort of thing happening with recurring characters. Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You is one of my favorite collections because it's just...weird. In the best way.

  3. I've always liked those halfway between sorts of things. My favorite mysteries when I was young were the trilogies of novelettes that Rex Stout wrote for Nero Wolfe.

  4. I have never been a fan of short stories, no matter how many times I try or how much I want to love something. I think what drives me craziest is just as I'm about to get really interested, they end! I do like an occasional novella though. I'm a big fan of Alan Bennet. Especially THE UNCOMMON READER and THE CLOTHES THEY STOOD UP IN. If you're a fan of his, or just want to know more about him, the BBC just had him on a half hour special edition of Front Row.

    My greatest writing fear is someone will ask me to contribute to a YA anthology of short stories and my agent will talk me into it somehow.

  5. Spelled his name wrong. Alan Bennett. And if you're interested in the radio show, it wouldn't let me paste a link here, but go to bbc radio 4 and look for it on Front Row.

  6. New book: Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson

    Also, any of William Trevor's short stories

    And I've heard new book Girl Trouble by Holly Goddard Jones is good.

  7. The "Miss Hemple Cronicles".

  8. I loved almost all of the short stories in Robert Olen Butler's 'A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain'. But my personal gold standard short story authors are Chekhov and deMaupassant.