Thursday, August 14, 2008

U.S. is Current Capital of the Short Story

In spite of recent rumblings about the death of the short story, Stephan Amidon at The Times takes the position that “[t]he USA is the undisputed capital of the short story at the moment, easily eclipsing the UK and Ireland. … [T]he British short story has undergone a sharp decline. … The British short story has become the pipsqueak sibling of the novel — smaller, weaker and less liable to earn respect.”

Why the discrepancy? Amidon points to a rich American tradition of fine short story writing coupled with several high-circulation publications (e.g., The New Yorker) that provide compensation for and recognition of the art: “The opportunity to be widely read (and highly paid) meant the greatest [American] writers took the genre very seriously.” Amidon also lauds “the robust system of subsidisation in place in America, funded primarily by the nation’s vast archipelago of university Master of Fine Arts (MFA) writing programmes.”

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