Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Unsung Value of Reading Short Stories

When is the last time you sat down and read a good short story?

I believe an excellent way to improve your writing is to dedicate a portion of your reading time to this overlooked and underappreciated writing form.

Anyone can get through a ten or fifteen page short story, even if your attention span has been maimed by years of multitasking and internet use. You should even have some time and attention left over for thinking about the various techniques and devices used in the story.

After all, a well-crafted short story will offer far more nuance and subtlety than the best novels, and it can yield exceptional, if miniaturized, examples of narrative, setting and theme.

Here are a three short story collections I've read recently--I highly recommend each:

Raymond Carver -- Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
Sherwood Anderson --
Winesburg, Ohio
William Trevor --
A Bit on the Side

Readers: What short stories would you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments!