I consider myself more a reader of novels than of short stories, but just as I have found time for writing short fiction, I am also learning to give it a place in my reading schedule – and for pleasure as well as for ‘educational purposes’. For this I am also developing some rules, e.g. I don’t want to read more than around 1500 words from a conventional screen, and so until someone buys me an e-reader, I’m unlikely to read a longer short story I find on the web. Even if it looks tempting, printing it involves a trip downstairs – which sadly could be enough to put me off.
I’m much happier with literary magazines, whose stories usually vary in length and are perfect for a bus journey or a night when I’m between novels, and the annual volumes of winning stories from the bigger short story prizes are also a good investment for entertainment value and for getting a clue as to what judges might be looking for (although not forgettting that the following year the judges will probably be different!)
Up to now I haven’t gone for short story collections by a single author, but am thinking it might be time to put some on my Christmas list, and so if Santa is listening, please send me any (or all!) of these: – Tania Hershman’s White Road, Vanessa Gebbie’s Storm Warning, or Tom Vowler’s The Method (both of these from the admirable Salt Publishing)
Meanwhile I do have the latest Yellow Room Magazine to keep me going, with a particularly nice cover this time, and (just spotted!) some very complimentary comments on Blue-Sky Thinking (which appeared in the previous issue) from an accalimed short story writer and teacher – (and this year a novelist too) . Thanks Sally!
And in a final piece of good news, I heard at the weekend that Mouse Years (soon to be published in Scribble) is also in the final ten of the Brighton COW short story competition.
It turns out I’m not in the prizes, but the story may be read out on hospital radio, come the day. I must say I rather like the idea of its bringing a smile to the sick people of the South East. Assuming they like it, of course!
3 thoughts on “Short Story Time”
Ali, after the week, 21st December is National Short Story Day, which promises to be a great time to find new examples and celebrate this wonderful form. We’re having an event to celebrate in Oxford (we’re holding a read-in at my favourite bookstore, the Albion Beatnik) and there are others around the country you can find on their website http://www.nationalshortstoryday.co.uk/
Can’t recommend Tania’s collection highly enough – I hope Santa is kind!
I’m bringing out a series of 1 story ultra-short pamphlets with work from my favourite writers, one story per issue, at 30p a copy that’ll be stocked locally in Oxford. You’ve put your finger on something very important – there is a real demand for great short stories, but as a genre the short story’s presence is very much skewed to the internet, which makes them tricky to read. We need to think of imaginative ways around that
Good to hear from you again. Oxford a bit far for me, but happy to spread the word. I think there are new technology approaches (e-readers, i-phones?) that really will help short stories. Surprised more not available as audio – or maybe I’m just not looking in the right place.
You’re right – there really should be more audio short stories available. I think part of the problem is that even though the length is perfect, you still need good quality recording equipment to make it listenable to. It can’t be long though before people are downloading stories from iTunes just like they are songs.