Like jazz, the short story is a truly American art form. While Americans didn’t invent it, we honed it, much like the Italians did so many years ago when they looked at Chinese noodles and said: Throw some tomatoes and cheese on those bad boys and now we’re talking. Take a few blank pages and with some hard work, you’ve planted your flag of creativity and rosy optimism and made something out of nothing. Not to mention, short stories are SHORT, and considering the attention span of our current society being whittled away by video games, cable TV, ipods and high speed Internet, they are the perfect medium for a good ol’ shot of literature. A short story gives a reader the opportunity to, in one fifteen minute sitting, have a complete, complex, artistic experience. How many plays and movies can say the same?
And yet today the habitat of the short story is being encroached. Every year, celebrity biographies, political back stabbers, and sweet books by and about dogs have no trouble finding a home on bookshelves, while short story collections languish in piles on the desks of uninterested publishers and editors. Short stories don’t sell. This is hammered into writers from day one, from the moment they hatch from their little writer shells. Meanwhile, the once protected sanctuary of magazines has been cutting fiction to make more room for more advertising and exposes on gastric bypass surgery. WE REFUSE TO LET THIS STAND. It is time to gather forces and save the short story. And in return, the short story will save us.
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