Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stop patronising short stories

"The short story form is better suited to the demands of modern life than the novel." (Simon Prosser Publishing Director Hamish Hamilton)

I don't agree that short stories are "in keeping with the hurried times we live in" or densely compressed. They are not vitamin pills. The reading of short stories is no different to any other reading with respect to time. A reader will read for the same duration and in the same way regardless of which book is in hand. Neither is there any appeal in the notion of being force fed prose that is compressed like animal food pellets. The short story is in the premier league and just as likely to win as any of the other teams. We short story writers are just as hard as other writers but no harder, just as artful but no fuller. We can arm wrestle the poets or the novelists and outstare them, if necessary. Do not patronise us.

Defending the story's place as a first class artistic medium is redundant and patronising. Would anyone ever think of saying that painting is more suited than sculpture to the demands of modern life because you can see all of a painting without having to walk around behind it? Painters would rightly spurn such an endorsement.