Book Worm’s Life in Books: Short Stories
Just so you know right from the start, I am not a fan of short stories. In fact, if I was given the choice to read a 10 page short story or a 1000 page novel, I would choose the novel every time. And, if that novel was part of a series, well that’s even better!!
What I love about reading is escaping to another world, following characters as they grow and develop, and being immersed in every aspect of the fictional world. You can’t really find that in a short story.
So having spent most my life avoiding short stories, I am now finding them thrust upon me in the form of the 1001 Books to Read Before you Die. While there have been some gems amongst these the majority have not managed to change my original opinion.
The Yellow Wallpaper Charlotte Gilmore Perkings ★★★★★ – Essentially there is one character and only one location in this entire short story. The story shows a woman whose mental state is declining, she spends all her time in a room with yellow wallpaper where she visuals outside forces that are working against her. Seriously everyone should read this story and if you don’t like it well at least its short
The Garden Party ★★★★ Katherine Mansfield – This is the story of how a teenage girl from a privileged background discovers there is more to life that hats and cake.
The Bad (or the at least the not so good)
The Beggar Maid Alice Munro ★★★ – this is a billed as a novel but is actually a collection of short stories about two women Rose and her stepmother Flo.
Pricksongs and Descants Robert Coover ★★ Supposedly these stories are new takes on fairy tales but I spent most the book thinking WHAT!!
The Ugly (or at least the bizarre)
Amateurs Donald Barthelme ★★★ – This is a collection of short stories which covers the full range or bizzare, boring, funny and interesting. My favourites were; Some of us had been threatening our friend Colby,The Captured Woman,Porcupines at the University and The New Member.
So how do you feel about short stories?
We had some old ’50’s and ’60’s readers in the house growing up. Some of the short stories were excerpts from longer books (most of which proved impossible to find) and I often find a sense of incompleteness with short stories.
Although I do love O. Henry. That might be the only collection of short stories I own. I have some short stories by Anne Frank that I don’t think I’ve read.
“The Garden Party” is another favorite.
The other day I tried to read “Varieties of Disturbances” by Lydia Davis. It weirded me out within the first five pages.
I posted about the short story collection that I read for the Pop Sugar reading challenge back in June. https://anythingbuthis.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/short-stories-on-sunday/
I really like The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst, The Lady or the Tiger by Frank Stockton, and The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. The Scarlet Ibis is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever read.
Short stories!! One of the best joys of my life! (As you can probably tell, I like them significantly more than you)
I read on the go a lot (on my commute, waiting for someone to show up) so short stories are wonderful. I don’t stop in between scenes a million times and I don’t end up forgetting plot points. And sometimes I just crave instant fix from fiction.
But also, short stories are invaluable for someone learning how to write. Learning how not to waste any words is essential, and yet, the medium is forgiving enough that if you fail at a story, you can just scrap it and write another.
The downside of short stories is, as you say, it’s not as immersive an experience as novels are.