Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Christian

May Is National Short Story Month

Recommended Posts

Sara Zarr points out that May is National Short Story Month. Apparently some writers celebrate by writing a short story each day in May, but Sara says she plans instead to read a short story each day.

 

That sounded like a fine idea, so I've decided to finally move my Joyce Carol Oates collection, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, off my "to read" list at GoodReads and into my "Currently Reading" list. Yes, this is the collection I bought in hardback in 1993 during the author's appearance at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., during Oates' promotional tour for Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. I decided to buy the hardback short-story collection that night instead of the novel, having read and admired some of Oates' short fiction while in college. I'd graduated from that school just a year earlier, so the lingering impression of Oates' writing was rather strong at that time.

 

Now, more than two decades later, maybe it's time to follow through and, ya know, read the stories? Yeah.

 

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? has 28 stories, so if I stick to the plan, I should knock it out this month. I'm guessing I won't stick to the plan, either because I forget, get too busy some days and run out of time, or just because I need to break up my Oates reading with some other short-story writers. But I do think I'll be close enough by the end of the month to press ahead and finally polish off Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? sometime this summer at the latest.

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I may not average one a day, but lately I've been reading some of Walter de la Mare's short stories for the first time. Many of them are quite wonderful. They balance a lot of different qualities: the writing is ornate but fairly straightforward and never wasteful, and they bring out the significance of a small incident without ever seeming melodramatic. Many of them have a nested story-within-a-story structure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great recommendation, Rushmore.

 

Yeah, I've already fallen off the wagon. I remembered only late Sunday that I hadn't read a story that day, and I told myself, "I don't need to read a story on Sundays."

 

But then I was very tired last night, and although I told myself I'd read when I got in bed, I just gave up, deciding sleep was more important than sticking to my one-story-a-day schedule, which I'd already blown.

 

Tonight I'm out at my parents' place. Will I read when I get home? Yes, I will. I think.

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I may not average one a day, but lately I've been reading some of Walter de la Mare's short stories for the first time. Many of them are quite wonderful. They balance a lot of different qualities: the writing is ornate but fairly straightforward and never wasteful, and they bring out the significance of a small incident without ever seeming melodramatic. Many of them have a nested story-within-a-story structure.

 

Ooh! Which ones? I've been dying to connect with someone over de la Mare. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hm. Maybe I'll use May being short story month as an excuse to purchase Daphne du Maurier's collected short stories, which I've been meaning to read for ages.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I stumbled out of the gate with my read-a-short-story-a-day pledge, but then got my sea legs, pretty much caught up -- only to leave my Joyce Carol Oates collection untouched since Sunday.

 

I'll get some more reading done in it soon, I hope. I'd really like to knock out the collection this month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooh! Which ones? I've been dying to connect with someone over de la Mare.

 

Reposting my reply, with a reply to Nathaniel's second reply that I have backed up in my email: My favorites of the ones I've read so far include "The Connoisseur" (a trippy parable about art in the supernatural realm) and many of the ones in The Riddle and Other Stories, especially the second half of the book: "Miss Duveen," "Seaton's Aunt," "The Three Friends," "Lispet, Lispett, and Vaine,"  and others.

 

I'll add that I'd recommend skipping his second collection, Ding Dong Bell. The stories in it all focus on droll, badly written gravestone epitaphs, which seem to have had some sort of fascination for de la Mare that I don't understand.

 

Fantastic. Those are some of my favorites as well. The Riddle is one of those desert island books for me. Have you read "The Tree?" That one still haunts me.

 

If you have any interest in continuing with this author, "Mr. Kempe" and "A Recluse" are unforgettable portraits of diseased minds, but executed with the same sort of compassion found in "Miss Duveen." Also, perhaps above all others, "All Hallows (which was inspired by St David's Cathedral) seems to comment on religion. De la Mare's Christianity is something that fascinates me. It's obvious he was a believer, but he was also an extremely sensitive soul given to bouts of despair, and this comes through in some of the stories. Graham Greene once observed that churches in his stories are usually depicted as monuments to a dead religion. The premise of "All Hallows" is brilliant, but I don't want to spoil it for you here.

 

Ooh, yes, I should have mentioned "The Tree"! Thanks for the reminder.

 

Basically what I've read of de la Mare so far is the first half or so of this volume, all I could get through before I had to return it to the library. That includes The Riddle, Ding Dong Bell, and the first few stories in The Connoisseur (including "Mr. Kempe"), which was enough to convince me I should buy it (and its sequel, since it's the first of two volumes) and read and reread the rest. I also got his collected poetry, but so far it hasn't impressed me the same way.

Edited by Rushmore

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...