We've already seen that in the UK (though not in the US ... or here for that matter) the former is something of an endangered species and there have been conscious attempts to revive it, particularly through the National Short Story prize (which Gough won earlier this year).
He says that he thinks that the "membrane" between the two forms has become more "permeable", and reckons that much of the UK's best writing is from short story writers forced to find ways to write novel-length stuff.
He takes Ian McEwan as a case in point, and says he:
... started out as a terse, disciplined short story writer. But "the market demands novels". Now he is seen as a terse, disciplined novelist. Yet a more interesting way to think of him is as an increasingly, and deliberately, sprawling, short story writer.And he reckons that On Chesil Beach, currently shortlisted for the Booker, is in fact a short story. (Something I agree with.)
... And it couldn't be a shorter story (skip the next line if you don't want the entire plot revealed): a man has a premature ejaculation which destroys two lives. That's it. Perfect, essential McEwan. Because McEwan has one thing he wants to write about again and again: middle-class lives destroyed by a single, shocking, unfair incident. His readers know that. So, in both Saturday and On Chesil Beach, he uses our knowledge against us, like the director of a good horror sequel. His chapters are now the equivalent of the slow pan around an empty room, with the viewer forced to look too long on every innocent object. Time gets stretched, objects obsessively overdescribed in an almost drugged atmosphere of dread. These are technically fascinating short stories of enormous length. Which is not to say McEwan is not a fine novelist. It's just that he is a writer who very seldom gets novel-length ideas (The Child in Time and Atonement, primarily).David Mitchell, he says, is another author who is at heart a short story writer:
A genius of the unpublishable length, the long short story, the novella, he finds a new structuring principle and assembles a novel from modules of story. He nests six novellas (Cloud Atlas) in a marvellously metafictive regression. Or he weaves a gossamer-thin line from which to hang nine stories that drift west, around the world (Ghostwritten). It is revealing that the only book of his to have disappointed the critics was his first "proper" novel, Black Swan Green.Gough also makes the point that readers don't seem to like short stories that don't connect to each other and reckons that writers need an "organising principle" for their work.
Lots more worthwhile reading on Julian Gough's website and blog. His new novel Jude: Level 1 was launched last month.