Thursday, March 22, 2012
The Short Story
I know many people who never read short stories. They claim shorts are not absorbing enough to spend time with. They don't transport them to the place that good novels do. Of course, I disagree with this. And because a short story can usually be read in one sitting, the experience can be very transporting. You usually know very clearly what the story is about.
In the 2011 O'Henry Awards, A.M. Homes compares novels to short stories by using the metaphor of a train. "The novel is a cross-country trip; one boards leisurely in D.C. and watches the landscape unfold as the train passes through Maryland, Ohio, Illinois as one prepares to disembark in L.A.'s Union Station. The short story is like hopping on that same train already in motion in Chicago and riding it into Albuquerque with no time to waste."
Is this a good metaphor for you? Yes and no. I don't see why the short story has to told as she indicated by the phrase "no time to waste." Also some novels seem to rush by us and some short stories seem to linger on a moment forever.
How would you define the difference?