About Short StoryOn the short story
State of the short story
The Paris Review publisher Lorin Stein says that if you think short story is death, you don't pay enough heed. Most of my adult years I have published mostly fiction. I' m reading short fiction now and then, like writers do, in a proffesional way, because it's a good place to discover talents.
From time to time I taught a grade where we were reading short story, because - well, because they are short. Well, you can see it clearly. Some of the short story authors I used to love, and now and then I was fortunate enough to work on one of their collection. However, fiction was what I thought about most of the time.
At the end of the night, when I took a story to supper or go to sleep - so when I was reading for entertainment - the story books I took with me were almost never a story-books. For more than ten years, as far as I recall, these are the only story sets that I exclusively enjoy reading.
Two years ago I quit the bookshop to publish The Paris Review, a journal renowned for its clichés. All of a sudden, my task was to think a great deal about short story. This is all we writers really need and all we like to do in our free times.
I wondered for the first in my whole existence why short storytelling was not a greater part of my Iife. Quite the contrary: the more tales I tell, the more I like them. There was April Ayers Lawson, with her sexual tortured evangelists, and Amie Barrodale, with a story about a fateful romantic week-end that I couldn't get out of my mind, and Ottessa Moshfegh, who wrote about loving and enjoying the countryside of China - and a dozen other tales that were just as hard-boiled, fun, demanding and wonderful, of which I had never known before.
As the years went by, I had listened, and half thought the short story was in a state of demise when the simple fact was that much of what had happened was lost from view - at least from my point of view, because me and my boyfriends and my favourite reviewers just hadn't paid enough heed.
There is a straightforward answer to why short story information has disappeared off our radars. In the past, history was not only an integral part of so-called literature journals, but also of populist scientific publication. One writer could provide himself with a short notion, and many - Thurber, Lardner, not to mention O. Henry - did just that.
When readers became weaker, the big magazine saw that it was simpler to draw advertising by posting style advice - generally by presenting product - than by giving pages to the fictional. Thus losing short tales against M*A*S*H* and Banana Republic. However, only a part - because if you look at the archives of The Paris Review, it is clear that most of our best novels would never have been published in GQ or the Saturday Evening Post.
Though short story-telling was considered a hotshot good, how many glossy magazines could ever have released Terry Southern, Donald Barthelme or Jorge Luis Borges, or dedicated most of an edition to "Goodbye, Columbus", let alone David Foster Wallace's first novel "Little Expressionless Animals"? They were never meant to be a form of popular conversation, yet they made a great impression in the letter writing business.
Although Jay McInerney and Jeffrey Eugenides' Paris Review debut books did not merge into full-length fiction (Bright Lights, Big City and The Virgin Suicides), people of a certain era would recall them - as my own generations recall the first essay by Wesley Yang or Elif Batuman or John Jeremiah Sullivan, essay based on story-telling, privacy and fierce dialogue:
Escsays that (like so much from New Journalism) lend out the technique of the fictional, but actually act. Much of the interest we once devoted to short story, whether it appears in The Paris Review or The New Yorker, is now reserved for a kind of narrative article that is not entirely a report or memory, but tells personal tales.
One might actually ask why so many of today's writers and reviewers split their times between novel and essay - the first female co-workers in the short story - and let the short film be? Most of the things I was reading came to me on the page. More or less like my folks do.
I' ve seen the newspaper. When I saw them in journals - at lunches or on the underground - I did short story readings, as well as I did essay and other long story and, for that matter, roman. That first long reviewer I ever written was about Ann Beattie, and I recall randomly browsing her work.
We' ve been spending less and less of our own on the telephone, less and less of our own and more and more of ours on the Internet. I' m a defensive reader. I used to spend the nights studying to shut myself down. That means that I have always loved writing fiction, story and travelogues. Out of the formula were short histories which - one could say - are neither of light nor dark.
For one thing, histories require the focal point of bed time. They should be reviewed from beginning to end. Can' t tell a story, can' t do multitasking. But on the other side, you can't just sit back and forget in a short story. A short story gets to the point. A good one keeps you thoughtful when it's over.
The motifs of the dark are taken up and exposed to the broad daylight. Readers immerse themselves in White Teeth, Middlemarch or Freedom when they find more in-depth and in-depth discussion - and everyone on the same page - when they see a small mag, an artwork or a compilation of theories.
There' s a period for multi-tasking and a period to lose yourself. This short story has something else to offer: a good opportunity to take a closer look - and get this recognition, because once every little action, every movement matters. There' s also a period in my whole lifetime for this kind of awareness.
She is publisher of The Paris Review. Paris Review presents the art of short story, now from Picador.