Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Writers on the short story

“If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden. The two processes complement each other, creating a complete landscape that I treasure. The green foliage of the trees casts a pleasant shade over the earth, and the wind rustles the leaves, which are sometimes dyed a brilliant gold. Meanwhile, in the garden, buds appear on flowers, and colorful petals attract bees and butterflies, reminding us of the subtle transition from one season to the next.” Haruki Murakami, from his introduction to the English edition of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (2006)

“A short story at its best is a miracle of compression. It is an almost alchemical reaction among language, character and plot that distills the essence of a tale from all that is extraneous. Readers often shy away from short fiction, feeling that they might not experience the pleasure of the longer novelistic adventure. The natural inclination to put off the endings of good things makes them suspicious of a form that insists on wrapping things up rather quickly. But when a story manages that acrobatic feat of using relatively few words and images to reveal a fully imagined world, we are as entranced as when we enter the narrative complexity of a single painting. In the most successful story, an end is a beginning too, the story closes as our wonder blooms.” Marisa Silver

“I find the short story form deeply attractive. I think it’s just slightly beneath poetry for me. Poetry is the highest form of literature. I cannot write poetry. I’m the most dreadful poet in the world. The short story is like a poem in that there is nothing lost. Everything is savoured. There is a strictness about it which I really admire and it takes your breath away if it’s good. It leaves you more breathless than poetry in some ways. Poetry runs off the tongue. A story doesn’t. It resonates in your head. I just think it’s the most beautiful genre there is. It’s wonderful for me to get a collection of short stories published and to be considered a short story writer. That’s all I want to do, really.” Claire Keegan, author of Walk the Blue Fields (2007) and Antartica (1999)

“The finest short stories teach us to apprehend with renewed clarity a world that habit and tired assumptions have reduced to an indistinct blur, and at the same time explore through their dark suffusions of meaning the de-creative and transformative power of the storyteller’s art.” Michael Keefer, Globe & Mail


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