Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mavis Gallant on Reading Short Stories

Mavis Gallant on reading short stories:

There is something I keep wanting to say about reading short stories. I am doing it now, because I may never have another occasion. Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.

From the Preface to The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant (1996).


danielle said...

Maybe this is my problem. I am not used to just reading one part of a book and then walking away (not intentionally anyway). I feel like I should be reading from front cover to back--like a novel. This is probably why I like interlinked short stories. I am going to try and read Katherine Mansfield's stories in conjunction with her journals and biographies. It will be interesting to read a story that she has just talked about or been discussed. We'll see how this goes, though!!

bhadd said...

Poetry would have a better time making this true I think. Linked novel-in-stories are commenplace also.

The Hood Company

Eva said...

That's interesting-I tend to agree. When I read short stories, I tend to read at least two collections and alternate between them (or read a novel at the same time). Especially if the stories have very different tones. If I don't take the time for the stories to sit and simmer, I find that I forget them a little too quickly. On the other hand, sometimes the stories are all so good I can't help myself from racing through!

Ted said...

That's great advice, isn't it? They're whole worlds, if they succeed. I'm a greedy reader, so I don't always follow that advice so I don't always have time to digest, but - yes! Absolutely. Having just read Tim Winton's The Turning and Katherine Mansfield's Prelude, I'd agree wholeheartedly.