"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Audacious Short Story

Short stories "succeed by wilfully falsifying many of the observable qualities of the lived life they draw upon. They also leave out a lot of life and try to make us not worry about it. They often do funny things with time - things we know can't be done, really - but then make us go along with that. They persuade us that the human-being-like characters they show us can be significantly known on the strength of rather slight exposure; and they make us believe that entire lives can change on account of one little manufactured moment of clear-sightedness. You could say, based on this evidence, that the most fundamental character trait of short stories, other than their shortness, would seem to be audacity."

Richard Ford, from The New Granta Book of the American Short Story, at the Guardian. The article goes on to discuss a number of stories. Might be worth keeping an eye open for this book -- available stateside.


Paul B. said...

"wilfully falsifying many of the observable qualities of the lived life they draw upon" - sounds like nonsense to me. You could say the same thing about jokes, anecdotes, cliched fiction, the Bible - easier to say what types of writing don't wilfully falsify the observable qualities of life as it's lived. Bah, humbug.

Zen of Writing said...

I think all fiction writing, not to mention memoir, biography, etc., does this, and memory itself. Perhaps it's more pronounced in shorter forms.