Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is Short Story Month!

May is Short Story Month. I discovered short stories in the summer of 1990, a collection titled American Family: 28 Short Stories, edited by Barbara H. Solomon. I was a young wife and mother separated from her husband by his military duty, casting around for support and comfort. I found that and so much more in this fat volume of portraits of the American family. The stories take place from 1894 to the present, following along and bearing witness to the upheavals of the 20th century: war, suffrage, the ongoing industrial revolution, prohibition, the Great Depression, civil rights, birth control, divorce, peace, drugs and rock and roll. Cue Billy Joel. I gathered strength and perspective from these tales, and read them over and over. Then I lent the book to my Aunt Sharon to take on vacation with her and she dropped it in a swimming pool. I still have that book. It's wrinkled and warped and discolored, but well loved. I digress.

Short stories are an exacting art, requiring economies of scale. An author of short fiction must convey all of the elements of a great novel in 20 or 30 pages. Think of those portrait artists who work in miniature. That's what a great short story writer does. The 20th century, especially the 80's, was a golden age of short fiction and my favorite, so many of the stories I'll offer to you here will be of this time period. Unlike poetry, I cannot post an entire story on the blog page so I'll post links for a specific story, the author, anthologies in which the story appears and anything else I can think of that might be fun.

April's National Poetry Month was a great success and I hope May's Short Story Month will be just as popular. So here we go: our first author is Raymond Carver. Mr. Carver is my favorite short story writer and is an internationally renowned master of the form. His first story was published in 1960 and his first collection of stories, titled Will You Please be Quiet, Please?, came out in 1976 and was nominated for the National Book Award. This is what the New York Times had to say about the debut. Look here for a complete list of Mr. Carver's work. He wrote about the people he knew and grew up with, working-class men and women trying to carve out and hold onto a place in the world, usually a little bewildered by the pace of change. Some of you may have seen Robert Altman's film "Short Cuts," based on Raymond Carver's stories. If you missed it, you can watch clips on my YouTube channel.

Today's story is "They're Not Your Husband."

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