Many, many years ago, when I was young, when hot spots were places in the South and I could walk through space without being bombarded by radio waves, I’d find a small corner and dive into my favorite book. In that faraway time, the problem wasn’t to make kids exercise but to make them stay still. No one bothered the kid who could be seen but not heard.
Even though some books I read had as many as eight hundred pages, I was still sorry when the story ended and I had to leave the imaginary world. I heard some adults say reading fiction was a waste of time and filled a young person’s head with silly ideas. Luckily, my parents were happy that I was easily and cheaply entertained. I borrowed most of my books from the library. At least twice a week, I’d walk the three miles there and back for my stories and to pick up my grandma’s “love stories.” That was what she called romances. Not only did I exercise but the weight of the books developed upper body strength.
I didn’t read short stories until I was in high school. Unusual characters and dramatic endings intrigued me but I felt cheated that my retreat from the real world was so short. Later, I came to appreciate the short story and joined a critique group to practice this art form. It was a challenge and I was amazed at the variety of characters and situations members of the critique group produced each week.
Then I heard the underground message that short stories were going out of vogue. Magazines no longer wanted to publish them. Only writers who produced novels could expect to develop a readership. Despite the negative publicity, the short story didn’t die. Now, anthologies and e-zines provide outlets for all kinds of short fiction. More and more Guppies are BSPing the publication of a short work.
I’ve read short story collections by Kaye George and Warren, each story a fresh experience. Level Best Books publishes a collection of short stories every year by New England authors or stories set in New England and I look forward to buying my copy at New England Crimebake. Every year, I purchase The Best American Mystery Stories. Lee Child was the editor in 2010.
Short stories suit the pace of life today. I don’t see many of the eight hundred pagers I used to read but I still enjoy the anticipation of starting a novel. Sometimes I simply prefer a gourmet snack to a three course meal.
Do you have the titles of any especially good stories to share?