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A Long Post about Short Stories

Short stories seem to be jumping up everywhere for me over the last little while. I’m not sure why. It started a few weeks ago when I happened upon the website of Harper Perennial. I was doing some ordering for the library and noticed that they are producing a series of reprints of short story collections by classic authors this year. Each reprint also contains one story by a current author who has recent or forthcoming book. Here are the books in the series (we are planning on ordering all in the series, if there isn’t currently a link, it’s just that the order hasn’t been processed yet):

Kind of a neat idea – blend the old and the new. And it’s part of an overall push that Harper Perennial is putting on for short stories this year. They have also put up a website at www.fiftytwostories.com where they post a new short story every Sunday for all of 2009.

More short story news came last week with the announcement that Canadian short story writer Alice Munro is this year’s winner of the Man Booker International Prize. Not to be confused with the Man Booker Prize, the International is a biennial award that is given to a living author for their entire body of work. Munro is the third recipient (previous winners were Chinua Achebe and Ismail Kadare)

Speaking of Canadian short story writers, Mavis Gallant has been doing the round of media interviews over the last little while in support of her new book Going Ashore, which is a collection of new and previously published short stories. I heard her speak on CBC Radio’s Q (on May 27th) and she was a delight. I haven’t actually read any of her stories myself, but hearing her speak has certainly made me interested.

And finally, I’ve been doing some personal short story reading of late. I’ve been on a bit of a project to read a few up-and-coming local writers and picked up a copy of In a Mist by Devon Code. The stories are wonderful: brief but intense glimpses in the lives of his characters. In her review of the book in The Coast last fall, Sue Carter Flynn summed it up well saying: “The now Toronto-based writer’s debut collection of short stories would fit nicely beside John Updike or Raymond Carver” and I think the comparisons are good ones. Read the full review here

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