Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - The Year of the Short Story

2009 has proved that rumours of the death of the short story – so often forecast that almost every review of almost every collection seems duty-bound to repeat and thus propagate it – are greatly exaggerated. The consensus running through the end-of-year reviews is that it's been a vintage year for short fiction, and I agree.
writes Chris Power on The Guardian blog and goes on to list many of the year's publishing successes.

And while there are still problems facing short story writers :

In the US it's commonplace for short story writers to get a deal for their first collection only on the proviso that a novel follows, a business practice that casts short story-writing as apprentice work. In the UK it's worse still, with story collections treated like dirty secrets to be snuck out in disguise ... with only a determined study of the back cover revealing the truth. And I don't know if it's a case of reading practices following publishing's lead or vice versa, but I'm constantly surprised and disheartened by the number of readers who tell me they don't read short stories, as if they were a homogenous type that could be not to your taste like, say, policiers.
he says he sees more reaon to celebrate than mourn :

Radio 4 broadcasts nearly 150 stories a year; the Atlantic's recent decision to sell short stories via its Kindle store inspires hope for a vibrant market for individually sold shorter works, while flash fiction and sites dedicated to the short story continue to proliferate online.
Well, if 2009 was good, let's hope 2010 ... and the whole of the coming decade ... will be even better for my favourite literary form!

(Cartoon by Tom Gauld.)


Oxymoron said...

Short stories are perfect for people with short attention spans and less patience like me. :)

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Finally broke out of my three year break of reading fiction (other than two novels)by plowing through1050 pages of short stories in The Penguin Book of International Short Stories 1945-1985 (many written by Nobel Prize winners (10)and translations, too.

It's great to step into a whole other world every day and be enriched by it; that's easy to do when you read a short story (in less than an hour (for the longer stories)! Sampling all those great writing styles and ways to tell a story, I feel like I'm learning how to write all over again.

In fact, I got two more textbook anthologies of short stories (1200 more pages to go)that I'm eagerly looking forward to devouring. Ideas are coming.

Long live the short story. It's far from dead. It's life itself, which I've just rediscovered. The love, the pain, the suffering, and the joy! Pick up a short story today and you'll see what I mean...
a story a day will keep the blues away...and may even inspire you to write your own!

Greenbottle said...

nothing is dead. short stories, fictions, biographies, memoirs...they're all alive and kicking. may be too robust even. we could do with a bit of reducing carbon foot print - by producing lesser amount of new books.

currently reading "Playboy's College Fiction: A Collection of 21 Years of Contest Winners" for light relief...relief not in the normal playboy's sense but after reading a very very good but grim and darkly comic memoir "nothing to be frightened of" by julian barnes i thought playboy's collection of stories will even things up a bit.

happy new year to you Sharon and all book lovers who hang around here may hate me (which i couldn't give a damn) but still, you're all my cyber soul mates...

composer said...


I for one don't hate you, and what would we do without you to liven things up? :)

Happy New Year to you and everybody else too.


Oxymoron said...

Got no reason to hate you, Greeny! :) Happy 2010!