I’ve never been all that keen on novels, except for those novels on which I’ve been very keen. The latter tend to be classics: Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, Moby Dick, 1984, with a coupla Russian guys and some random others thrown in.
But I’ve always loved short stories. Loved, loved, loved them. In fact, most of my favorite fiction has always been short stories, and that’s even before the internet shortened my attention span and age reduced my patience.
I love John Updike, but I love his short stories rather than his novels. I prefer Nabokov’s stories to his novels, as well, and the same for Isak Dinesen, Katherine Anne Porter, Jhumpa Lahiri, and even, if truth be told, Tolstoi. I’m fond of Shirley Jackson’s stories (although they’re probably too creepy to justify the word “fond”), and even though I think Kundera’s novel “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” is a masterpiece, it actually follows something closer to the form of a series of short stories connected somewhat in theme but well able to stand alone.
I’ve often wondered why I’m drawn to the short story form. I know that I’ve never even considered writing a novel, although I’ve written poetry, essays, and to a lesser extent short stories, for the greater part of my life. I’ve heard it said that poets and essayists have in common the fact that they liked compressed forms and language, and that’s probably at least one reason why I like short stories so much. Novels often seem to have long passages that are insufficiently interesting to me (yes, I know, I like Moby Dick, which specializes in that sort of thing—”everything you never wanted to know about the whaling industry,” but go figure).
All of the foregoing is by way of an introduction to this article, which claims that short stories are enjoying a renaissance because they go better with kindles and modern internet-formed sensibilities. Although my sensibility formed long before that, and I have yet to transition to a kindle although I own one, I’m happy to hear that the short story is still very much alive and kicking: