Monday 4 June 2012

Short and Sweet

Why do some people think big is better?  Just because it's long doesn't mean it's good.  It's all in the way you use it.  People complain they just get into it and it's all over too quickly for them.  I'm talking about short stories here so get your mind out of the gutter!

When I recommend books, lots of people tell me they don't like short stories.  In fact they hate them.  They feel cheated with a short story because it seems unfinished and leaves them wanting more.  A publisher once told me that a collection of short stories sell even less than poetry books!    I just don't get it.   There is nothing better than a short, crisp, spare story that draws you in from the first line and quickly pulls you through to the end.  It's the perfect thing to read before bed or else you stay up way too late reading a novel and waiting for the right spot to stop for the night.

The queen of the Canadian short story is undoubtedly Alice Munro.  For nearly fifty years she has provided the best stories often reflecting our day-to-day lives.  My favourite is Lives of Girls and Women but they're all great.  Margaret Atwood has also dabbled in this genre with Bluebeard's Egg and Wilderness Tips.  

Bestselling author Emma Donoghue published a great collection of short stories called Touchy Subjects before she hit it big with her novel Room.    Russell Wangersky of Newfoundland delights with his collection of interwoven short stories in the recently published Whirl Away.
So when you don't have enough time to devote to a novel, try some bite sized pieces of short stories.  Trust me, you might like it.

Frances Newman, Regional Librarian

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