Monday, September 3, 2012

Short stories: towards a definition

How do writers define the short story? Here’s how some have tried...
Edgar Allan Poe “ longer than can be read in one sitting...”
William Saroyan “...but some people can sit longer than others...”
Raymond Carver “a fierce pleasure”
Tillie Olsen “an healing riddle”
Alice Munro “an art of snapshots”
Flannery O’Conner “a redemptive act”
John Berger “a form of prayer”
John Hawkes “an act of rebellion”
Truman Capote “the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing... whatever control and technique I may have I owe entirely to my training in this medium... too many writers seem to consider the writing of short stories as a kind of finger exercise. Well, in such cases, it is certainly only their fingers they are exercising...”
Nadine Gordimer (Nobel Prize, 1991) “...the short story is a fragmented and restless form, a matter of hit or miss, and it is perhaps for this reason that it suits modern consciousness—which seems best expressed as flashes of fearful insight alternating with near-hypnotic states of indifference...”
Herbert Ellsworth Cory (1917) “the short story is the blood kinsman of the quick-lunch, the vaudeville and the joy-ride. It is the supreme art-form of those who believe in the philosophy of quick results...”

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