Monday, April 6, 2009

Short Story Purgatory?

A. O. Scott’s piece in the Times, “In Praise of the American Short Story,” trumps out yet again a silent consensus that the short story has been getting short shrift for far too long--note that’s the “American” Short Story. But to keep mentioning the denigration of the short story only ghettoizes it some more. The tide is probably turning as these things do, over time.

For those of us in the trenches of fiction writing, short stories are the best--maybe the only?--game in town. It’s the one way to get yourself published though it doesn’t necessarily lead to the payoff of a novel’s reception. As for success? I think writing a good story and having it recognized is quite rewarding. I think because a story is short and has so many venues, as well it doesn’t have a single designated venue, it is looked down upon. But short story writing is where writers begin if they want to be published. It isn’t always the case that writing short fiction will get noticed, but there are many writers I admire who started out with short fiction and have largely become known for their novels (Philip Roth, Norman Rush, Paul Theroux, Ian McEwan, Denis Johnson, Junot Diaz, to name a few). With a short story, if it appears anywhere at all, it’s usually in a journal of which there are thousands upon thousands, or it appears in a collection that is the sum of parts, i.e., what is considered inferior to a novel.

No comments:

Post a Comment