Monday, July 14, 2008

Advice for Short Story Readers

One of the intelligent readers of this blog has reminded me of the wonderful (and oft-quoted) advice given by Mavis Gallant to short story readers: "Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait."


rjnagle said...

Of course, Gallant writes short story gems, so that's what she would say. On the other hand, it's hard for readers to stop and start so many times. The big thing now seems to be interrelated short stories with a common set of characters(Tim O'brien's The Things they Carried), which I just finished, is a good example of this.

My test of story length is how much can you can in a single sitting before going to bed.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice! I did this with Unaccustomed Earth because, even though the stories are tied together by theme--and the last 3 by characters--I wanted to savor each one separately. Good call!