Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Forum - do you like short stories? Which? Why?

It was about eleven when I got to the roadhouse at Barrington. P1000894(1) My excursions with the cattle (Sunday Essay - early morning on a New England road) plus my own tiredness had delayed me. I got stiffly out of the car, put my notepad down on the table, and wandered inside.

Coffee ordered, I sat down and got out my book. At the end of September in Sunday Essay - the Turning, I reported on the film based on the Tim Winton book of short stories.

At the time, I said that I hadn't read it. A friend lent me her copy, and I had taken it away on the trip. The previous evening had been too busy and social to attempt reading, so I brought it in while I ordered my coffee. The lady in charge saw the book. "I do like Tim Winton," she said. "I haven't read that one, but I saw him interviewed on ABC. Tell me what you think."

Coffee ordered, I sat outside and read the first two short stories. Following my earlier post, our Indian blogging friend Ramana had ordered a copy. He experienced some problems with language and syntax. I could see why. This is colloquial Australian writing. As I read, I found that the first two stories left a slightly bitter after taste, I also found that I wanted to write another type of story, based on Tim Winton's model, but with a higher degree of joy. I grabbed my pad and started sketching ideas.

I had to move. I went inside to pay. "What did you think", the lady in charge said. "Tell you on my next trip", I replied. I left, driving back into the heat, thinking about short stories. It got me wondering.

Short stories used to be a very popular Australian genre, then went into decline. Now they seem to be coming back.

What do you like about short stories? What are you favourites? Have you tried to write one? Just asking as a different Monday Forum topic.  


In a comment, Ramana referred to an explosion in Indian short stories. He kindly provided this link as an example. 


Rummuser said...

Short stories appeal to me as they don't take too much time at one reading. One can read one or two at a time and come back at leisure for another dose. Novels often force one to prolong the time spent reading.

I am into Indian language short stories translated into English. Mostly these short stories either appear in magazines or an author spends time over many disparate themes and puts them all together. Either way, this is a powerful new wave that is generating a lot of interest here,

Jim Belshaw said...

So we have a short story revival in India. Can you give more information, Ramana? It sounds interesting.

Evan said...

I like short stories that give a full account of an incident (or perhaps exploration of an idea).

I like novels that create a world.

Rummuser said...

Here is a link that should give you some idea of what is happening. There are other publishers too on the same bandwagon.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's a nice distinction, Evan. Thanks for the link, Ramana. I have brought it up in the main post.

Anonymous said...

Dunno if this qualifies but there is one particular short (horror) story which has stayed with me since I first read it, then watched an Alfred Hitchcock film version of it.

I went searching Google to try to find the book - you will laugh because I searched for Hitchcock's Half Hour (throwback to H-Hancock's Half Hour?) - but can't find a suitable reference.

It was the one about the prisoner who devises a clever plan to escape by being buried under the next dead inmate, with help from the doctor. And when he gets a bit uncomfortable waiting for release he looks at the corpse above him, only to find it is the prison doctor.

Many variations, as I see from TV Tropes etc. but that story has haunted me since I first read, then watched, it in my early teens. And I still shudder thinking about it as I write.