I love short stories. I always have, so I don’t understand why collections are deemed not to sell well. I buy them.
Short stories are glimpses into worlds. They allow a sip of the extraordinary. They indulge suggestions of weirdness, surreal, supernatural in a way that might seem absurd in a novel.
I grew up on Radio 4, which fed me a steady diet of wonderful short fiction, even when read with dubious American accents. (It’s the cadences they can’t seem to get.)
When I worked for Country Life magazine, we used to get copies of The Lady, which always seemed to contain a short story.
Now I write short fiction and I’d like to tell you about the writers I like.
Joyce Carol Oates – In fact, I don’t really get on with her novels. I can just about like the odd novella by her. I love her short stories. If you haven’t, try Sourlands.
Elizabeth Bowen – The Needlecase still has the power to give me cold chills. It is characteristically oblique and subtle.
Roald Dahl – Forget everything you think you know about him if you’ve only read his children’s books. His real talent lay in tiny, earth-shattering creations.
The More Obscure
Steve Lattimore – I can only find one collection Circumnavigation, which I read about fourteen years ago and is absolutely stunning. I follow this writer on Twitter but I’m too shy to ask about his more recent work.
Places to find good stories
I may be biased, because I’m a regular contributor, but I love listening to No Extra Words. It’s a podcast, so the short stories are read to you while you do other things (insert list of possibly activities: driving, baking, ironing, planting flowers). That way the words are really in your head, as though they are your own thoughts.
This post is brought to you by the kind support of my parents, who are currently babysitting my sons.