23 April 2009

"The Joy of Brief Encounters" (title stolen from Tim Adams's Guardian article)

I never intend to wade into the creative fiction morass, but I do save writing tips that I happen upon. I'll use this post as a dumping ground for short story commentary, for both readers (me) and writers, adding to it as I come across other examples.

Raymond Carver: "Get in. Get out. Don't linger."

Richard Ford:

Short stories by nature are daring little instruments and almost always represent commensurate daring in their makers. For one thing, short stories want to give us something big but want to do it in precious little time and space. For another, they succeed by willfully falsifying many of the observable qualities of the lived life they draw upon. They also leave out a lot of life and try to make us not worry about it. They often do funny things with time - things we know can't be done, really - but then make us go along with that. They persuade us that the human-being-like characters they show us can be significantly known on the strength of rather slight exposure; and they make us believe that entire lives can change (turn on a dime) on account of one little manufactured moment of clear-sightedness. You could say, based on this evidence, that the most fundamental character trait of short stories, other than their shortness, would seem to be audacity. More than even the sestina, short stories are the highwire act of literature, the man keeping all those pretty plates up and spinning on skinny sticks.

Guardian article that led to post, with glowing reviews of three new collections:

Extract from Richard Ford's preface to The New Granta Book of American Short Stories:

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