Sunday, October 09, 2011
Every year is the year of the short story
2011 is not only the Year of the Entrepreneur, it's also the Year of the Short Story, I've belatedly realized.
Who cares if the year is three-quarters done - both themes are worthy of celebration. I'm working on a volunteer project in my community to celebrate the former.
But as a bit of a boost for the latter, here are some wonderful short story collections I'd like to share with you (bonus: three of these writers were actually discovered by me in 2011). I'm taking their injunctions seriously, and have not only written this post, but am hoping the hashtag #yoss will take off on Twitter.
Sarah Selecky and her marvellous collection, This Cake is For the Party. I was late to this particular party. Now I don't want to leave (i.e. I'm reluctant to return it to the library. I am upset the title story got cut.) I find her writing process fascinating. I can't wait for more of her work.
Julie Booker's phenomenal Up Up Up. Julie does some interesting things with the short story form in this book - and was roundly criticized by one reviewer for writing short stories that were too - short. Aritha Van Herk and I had an excellent snicker over that one at the writing workshop I attended (and she was teaching) in Fernie this summer. In fact the whole class had a good laugh about it. And yes, I was name-dropping there. Deal with it.
Jessica Westhead's And Also Sharks. She and another female Canadian writer seem to be reversing a tradition in Canadian publishing of producing a volume of short stories and then going on to write novels, something that's never made to sense to me, given there really are more novel-lovers out there than short story-lovers (at least in terms of buying books). But that brings me to a point I was going to make anyway - I'm told this is not the case in the UK, where no publisher will consider bringing out a volume of your short stories unless you've already produced three or four successful novels.
That info is courtesy of Hari Kunzru, whose own collection of short stories, Noise, I'm dying to read. As a treat, here's his story "The Culture House."
The amazing Robin Black collection, If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, was released in paperback in 2011 as well. On Shakespeare's birthday, no less. If you haven't read it - it you must.
And while I certainly haven't succeeded in buying - or in reading - every single edition of Best American Short Stories, whether you think you're not a short story fan or know that you are, it's always a wonderful starting place to discover American writers from whom you're going to be hearing a lot more in decades to come, as well as ones you should already have been reading. The combination of a series editor working in conjunction with an annual guest editor makes this a consistently astonishing collection. In fact, I'm feeling a little faint with book lust as I notice the guest editor of the 2011 edition is Geraldine Brooks.
I'm now dying to get my hands on a copy of Robert Boswell's The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards. Came across a review of it (somewhere) recently and while I no longer remember what they said about him (and it), I know it was enough to make me write it down so I'd remember to beg, borrow, or buy a copy. As if the title alone weren't enough....
For (slightly) longer reviews of books I've read and rated, you can find me on Goodreads.
Cormorant Books kindly provided me with a copy of And Also Sharks, a lovely surprise because I was expecting a copy of Michael V. Smith's Progress and the other was a bonus treat.
House of Anansi sent me a copy of Up Up Up - out of the blue, as is their wont. Don't stop!