John Wilson writes about a couple story anthologies rescued from a library trash heap: Fiction of the Fifties: A Decade of American Writing (1959), edited by Herbert Gold; and Stories from the Sixties (1971), edited by Stanley Elkin. He points out some differences and quotes from their introductory essays, but one thing unites them. “Both of these volumes are haunted by an absence. They are, with a few exceptions, radically secular.” But Wilson recommends one stand out story, which I see is the title of an anthology of its own.
According to Chris Power, a golden age of short stories has always been shrouded in a misty past and was on the verge of reemerging.
H.G. Wells thought the short story thrived in the 1890s. H. E. Bates said it was the 1920-30s. William Boyd said 1981 was a great year for the story form everyone secretly loved and read quietly in corner booths with their third beer.
While bitter experience has shown poetry exactly where it stands in the marketplace, and the novel has shrugged off multiple reports of its death and maintained pre-eminence, the short story is continually characterised as the neglected form that will be great again. The funny thing is, when you explore its history you find the perception of a distant golden age, an undistinguished present and a return to glory has always been around: the short story has a problem with reality.
(via Prufrock News)
“The dullest short stories I read from the last fifteen years were winners of competitions,” writes Hensher, who sieved through journals, old and new, to source the material for these collections. He characterises the winning stories of contemporary competitions as “present-tense solitary reflections”, their protagonists “lying on their beds affectlessly pondering; major historical events were considered gravely; social media were dutifully brought in to indicate an eye on the contemporary”. It is a mistake to believe that competitions, rather than a system of commissions, payments, circulation and readers, will generate literary quality.
Last week, perhaps you were caught up in the thrills of seeing the moon turn to blood as a harbinger of the end of the world. Too bad it didn’t, right? That just means you can experience the fun all over again, and a group of short story writers may have you covered in this book about an apocalypse that wasn’t.
You can read the premise of the fauxpocalypse and more from the eleven contributing writers on their website. Briefly stated, a scientist predicted the path of an enormous comet would hit the earth on July 15 of this year, and it really looked as if it would hit us. But no. What do you do when almost everyone in the world believe this time it really isn’t a test? Dip into the book here.
I like the idea of the book, but perhaps gathering stories around the theme of something big that didn’t happen will only get you middling results, especially when the story begins with the anticlimax. As one story says it, “Either way, the world had not ended, so it was time for chores.”
I heard of this book through a writer friend, Dave Higgins. He contributes two stories, and you may find that his contributions are worth the price of the whole, though I also liked Alexandrina Brant’s exploration of faith in her story of a college student who attends what could be Oxford’s last chapel service.
Here’s a bit of creative writing fun we can have for the last half of October, the approach to Halloween. Look at this photo from Carlos Miguez Macho of someone walking in the street. (I don’t believe I would be permitted to display the image here.) Then write a few sentences, a momentary scene based on the photo.
I suppose I should start, but look at the photo before reading the submissions. Continue reading Windy Street Halloween Writing Prompt