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June 29, 2006

Picador Shots

Remember Picador Shots, the small, inexpensive books meant to bring the short story to the masses? There was an an article on them in The Observer recently. Oh, such a wonderful idea and particularly appealing due to my newfound love of the short story.* And what do we have in the post today? Well, books of course, which is starting to become a habit for me (which is heavenly, combining my two greatest loves, books and post). Five books, actually; today I received five Picador Shots in the mail from Bronwyn! I got “Sonata” by Jackie Kay, “Small Mercies” by Tim Winton, “My Lord You” and “Palm Court” by James Salter, “Water from the Sun” and “Discovering Japan” by Bret Easton Ellis, and “Powder” by Matthew Kneale. Oh, UK Book Culture, I miss you to the depths of my deep deep soul. What a thrilling surprise.

*Regarding the short story, you know, I didn’t really used to love them. I had read Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood’s short stories, but only because you sort of had to if you liked those authors. They were the poor man’s novel, in my mind. I had no respect for the form itself, only because I was judging it against the novel and it came up short. I didn’t realize that short stories are supposed to do something altogether different. And of course it took Grace Paley to show me what short stories were all about. I am now a convert. Yea yea for Picador Shots!

3 thoughts on “Picador Shots”

  1. PatrickMH says:

    What are short stories supposed to do? They have a function? Really? Aren’t they essentially about spending twenty minutes with an author, rather than (as opposed to?) hours with ’em? So if you say of Atwood that she’s cool to hang around but can get wicked bad on your nerves after awhile, you turn to her short stories rather than her novels–the form helps you avoid having to pretend you’ve just gotta fly ’cause you got a dentist appointment, a plane to catch, a hot date (I don’t–isn’t that horrible?!) or some other pressing matter to attend to. (Short story collections should be written by more-or-less unlikable people, maybe. Something to think about?)

    (sbaoo)

  2. Kerry says:

    A window rather than a door? I guess the main difference is that short stories give a reader another kind of approach to scene and character. Every factor must be considered differently in a narrative that is 2500 words, as opposed to one that is 250000… or some other big number. A short story has to know what its self is; those that function as short novels or as pieces of longer stories could succeed on their own merits, but they’re probably bad short stories.

  3. PatrickMH says:

    Thanks for the response–I really am open to being convinced that writers *must* approach the creation of a short story very differently than they would a novel. But since I so strongly experience reading as time spent in the company of a writer, when I consider whether or not writers should shape narratives differently depending on their expected length, I am prone to ask myself if I expect something different from a conversation with someone when I have ten minutes to spend with then than I would if I had an hour or two–and I’m not sure that I necessarily do. If I had five, I wouldn’t ask them to talk faster or be more concise, cause that would just make the conversation agitating, assaulting.

    (250000 is a big number–especially with the space left out. Also: I’m also wicked anti-nationalist (nations?–how nineteenth-century!); but if forced, I’d wave the american flag. I blame the CBC (not Atwood; I like Atwood). nevertheless, happy Canada Day!)

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