Tuesday, September 18, 2007

When is a Short Story Not a short Story?

Yesterday Julian Gough wrote in the Guardian about the current state of the short story, expanding on a view he touched on previously, via this blog: that while short stories may appear to have been squeezed from our present culture, in reality they survive, sometimes extended to novella length by writers such as Ian McEwan, at other times linked together, as in David Mitchell's books, to create what he says could be called the 'multistory novel'.

Gough presents these developments as meaning that the short story is after all alive and well (just a little bit hidden), and are a Good Thing: Our lives feel fragmented enough already, he says, and all short story writers need to do is come up with an 'organising principle'. But I don't think he even needs to make this case: Salt Publishing have just sent me a splendid leaflet detailing their new list of short story collections. And I can't help thinking that by doing so, and by implying that short stories are 'fragments', as a writer of (marvellous) stand-alone stories he's just shot himself, and the rest of us short-story writers, in the foot.
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