Sunday, September 30, 2007

Short Stories: Alive, Not Well

What Ails the Short Story - Stephen King - Books - Review - New York Times

Being one of the charter members of the Sesame Street generation, I've grown up with the short attention span endemic to one exposed to faster and faster TV editing.  Thus, I've always enjoyed the short story as one of my favorite literary vehicles.  I think genre fiction (science fiction, fantasy, mystery and horror) in particular benefits from the short form:  there are many clever ideas that will support a short tale and a punchline, but that cannot be developed far enough to support a whole novel.

In this New York Times article, Stephen King -- the editor of the 2007 BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES, and a fellow who knows something about genre fiction -- describes the limited marketing and availability of short stories today; and the resulting inbred, airless nature of many such stories.  (Stories from my relatives excluded, of course.)  The problem he describes -- the "bottom shelf" nature of short story magazines -- has probably been an issue in genre fiction ever since the surviving pulps mutated from 8 1/2 by 11 broadsides into digest-sized periodicals that are still carried in supermarkets and drug stores -- albeit on the shortest shelf in the store, just above the ant traps and the rat poison.

Blogged with Flock

No comments: