Saturday, October 17, 2009

Short Stories Pack a Punch!

Do you read short story fiction? It seems to break all of the rules that apply to novels and nonfiction. Alot of telling. Not much action. Dark, dark, themes and topics. Little action or plot. Quirky, strange, over-the-top characters. And so stunningly intense that they stick in my mind seemingly forever.

Think of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor.

Who do you remember? Or maybe who can you forget? I suppose the main characters would be the Mother-in-Law and the Outlaw. Perhaps this story jumped into my mind as an example of 'memorable' because of the short story I just finished reading at Subtropics, a literary magazine offered by the University of Florida. It reminds me of Flannery O'Connor's style. 

"Give Me That" by Molly Giles is as much a character sketch as anything, yet there is plot and action and a surprise twist, yet all of it works because every action and reaction seems so in line with the characters and events described. I like the easy, informal tone of this story. The first line also ties in with the last line. But with so much MORE depth and meaning than I would have ever thought possible from simply reading the opening line: "Bess didn’t go to Chloe’s memorial just for the cake. She had loved Chloe, well, maybe not loved, Chloe was difficult to love, but Bess had admired her."

The short story is available to read at the Subtropics website.

What else do you remember and was it something you read for fun or because it was assigned? The Lottery by Shirley Jackson perhaps? What newer, non-assignment short story would you recommend as an excellent example of the genre? Or is short story a genre? Have you studied these short stories to understand what worked? What sucked you in? What repelled you, but kept you reading at the same time?

Short stories are short. But they pack an even bigger punch than a 100,000 word novel. How do they do that? We should know -- afterall, we're writers!

Have you noticed that women seem to be able to hold their own in the short story fiction arena?

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