There are two major elements to the writing course I’m taking though the community college. The first, obviously, is writing. The second is reading.
One of our texts is the marvelous Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction: Fifty North American Short Stories Since 1970. Of the many short story collections I’ve read in my life, this is probably my favorite. The quality of the stories collected here is uniformly excellent.
Many short story anthologies are uneven. End-of-year compilations tend to feature a lot of weaker stories, included only to fill the volume; there are really only two or three great short stories published each year, and that’s just not enough to merit an annual anthology. Most retrospective anthologies, though, include sentimental favorites, or cover too broad a time-span to be truly reflective. The Scribner anthology covers only stories of the past thirty years. Every one I’ve read is a gem. If you enjoy short stories, I encourage you to find a copy of this book.
I just finished reading Gryphon by Charles Baxter, an author with whom I am unfamiliar. “Gryphon” is a charming little tale of fourth-grade metamorphosis, more fun than most short stories. (Short stories seem to be typified by serious, somber tales of moments of crisis. Humor is an oft-missing feature in short stories, even in mine.) The full story is available on-line and worth a read if you have ten minutes to spare.
Reading great short stories from great authors is inspiring, but it’s also disheartening. When I compare my work to their work, I lose hope of ever developing the craft. Still, I’m not going to stop reading or writing. I’ll persevere, churning out my maudlin brand of fiction as best I can.
On 21 October 2003 (12:07 PM),
On 21 October 2003 (02:15 PM),
On 21 October 2003 (04:15 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:
On 21 October 2003 (05:35 PM),
J.D. Roth said:
On 21 October 2003 (08:17 PM),
Mom (Sue) said: