Thursday, July 15, 2010

let me tell you a little tale...

i love short stories.
i haven't always, but i do at the moment. every week i receive one or more photocopied short stories by some writer or other from some time throughout history and then i spend four hours with some lovely people talking about it, and then also sharing our own work with one another. so far we've read guy de maupassant, jd salinger (oh em gee i am in love with for esme, with love and squalor - it shall have its own blog post soon), raymond carver, isabel allende, colette, janette turner hospital, anglea carter, marguerite duras, the indomitable agatha christie (we read POIROT, yes, poirot, he talks about poirot in the third person, aha), anton chekov and edgar allan poe. to name a few.

i love short stories for their brevity and sparseness (though not always sparse, but certainly brief by nature) and how complete they feel within only ten pages or so. fewer, sometimes.

i love kelly link's the wrong grave (especially for 'magic for beginners' and also the titular story) and i am traumatised and completely seduced by margo lanagan's heartbreaking story 'singing my sister down' from the collection black juice. these are scary, magical, beautiful stories.

another great collection, which is just out this week, is wordlines: contemporary australian writing (five mile press) compiled and edited by the brilliant hilary mcphee - author, editor, publisher. (and i helped). there is a slew of top-knotch australian writers represented here but if i had to pick out two to mention they would be abigail ulman for her story 'chagall's wife' which was an electric tale about a young girl and her relationship with an older teacher. it made me feel like they were moving through treacle, slow and kind of sexy. (but also awkward and funny) the other would be the extract from sophie cunningham's not-yet-finished novel about virginia woolf and her husband - the extract here entitled 'pearl' which celebrates the grit of love in a rotting relationship affected by sickness.


  1. singing my sister down is so unbelievably brilliant! A must read.


  2. Great post - I too love a great short story and that one about the teacher sounds good, I'll have to check it out.

    And also since I love Virginia I have to point out there is no 'E' on her surname!!! Sorry :(

  3. oops! ta.

    oh and hey. if anyone has got a short story, please submit to visible ink - submissions close end of the month. and we're having an event soon too, so keep your eyes peeled! (

  4. Hi Kate

    I write short stories and love it because as you said, they have a sparseness to them unachievable in any other form. From a writer's point of view, you have to exercise enormous discipline in writing them, every single word has to earn its place. No room for waffle. You have to present a moment, in the sense of Virginia Woolf's 'moment', one that contains a universe. You don't have the luxury of writing on and on, exploring everything, it has to be tight, tight, tight.

    A Small Good Thing and Cathedral from Raymond Carver are breathtaking as are the stories in Nam Le's The boat. Also, check out the American Southern writer Flannery O'Connor. A Good Man is Hard to Find and The Artificial Nigger are among my favourites. I have a collection coming out in the Staes later this year and that Megan's going to mention in her blog, Domain of the Lower Air.


hey anonymousauruses - give yourselves a name. a nom de plume, a nom de blog. it's more fun that way.