I've been in a short story binge lately, so I thought I'd point out a couple of the gems. I was especially taken by the story set in Brazil of Leiningen Versus the Ants in 21 Great Stories. Interestingly, someone else was thinking about this story this week too, in terms of it being an apocalyptic ecology story. Leiningen has carved out a plantation in Brazil, and faced with an army of ants scouring the countryside, decides to remain and protect his farm. This is a wonderful story, which quickly establishes place, characters and conflict.
In Aiiieeeee! An anthology of Asian Writers, John Okada's No No Boy gives us insight into the Seattle Japanese community as they confront feelings of guilt and shame during WWII.
I really thought I had read every story ever written about horses in my youth, so I was pleasantly surprised to find I had not read National Velvet, from Stories to Remember. This is actually a novella sized work. This story of Velvet and her poor family's life in rural England and how she came to posses her 5 horses and become the champion jumper at the annual exclusively male jockied National Hunt really puts you on the back of the horse.
I've talked with authors about short stories, and it seems half love writing them and half are horrified at the prospect. Everything that is in a novel, needs to be present in a short story. But the elements need to be put in position and the drama played out in a much shorter span. A full length novel gives the author time to draw out these details, where as the short story writer must accomplish that in 5 to 7 pages. In that, the form is a bit like poetry.
I would like to take a moment to remember a great bookseller who passed this past week of cancer. Enid Schantz and her husband Tom ran Rue Morgue Bookstore in Boulder, and later established Rue Morgue Press so that they could publish their favorite mysteries from the 30s 40s & 50s. She was a wise and generous woman and she will be missed.
Happier days in Key West.
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