Monday, March 31, 2008

cadenza magazine

The reviewer is reviewed. In the new issue 18 of Cadenza magazine, editor Zoe King says The Short Review is:
an invaluable resource...Reviews are intelligent, comprehensive and precise, guiding visitors towards new reading experiences.The site itself is wel-designed - easy to navigate, and, be warned, addictive.

Addicted to short stories? We're more than happy to provide you with your fix if you can hold out til Wednesday, when Issue 6 will hit the presses.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New content on the site

The short-story loving folk at Comma Press have created a section on their website entitled "The Short Story: theory and practice" because, they say:
"as a publisher and champion of the short story, it is encumbent on Comma to encourage debate - both critically and constructively - about the current state of the form, and where contemporary styles and practices fit in with its wider development. Over the next few months Comma will set out to gather around this website some of the many short story resources already in the public domain, through links and mp3s, in the hope that practice and further debate will lead from it."
Those interested in learning more will find articles on the three types of short story, the evolution of these three types of story, genre anatomies, and a reading list of short stories and essays on short stories. This is still under construction, but it is shaping up to be a very valuable resource. Click here to see what there is so far.

Sam J Miller's essay, Where the Readers Are, in The Quarterly Conversation, takes issue with Stephen King's "autopsy on the American short story" in his much-blogged-about introduction to the latest edition of Best American Short Stories. Says Miller:
The crux of his overall argument is this: audiences are shrinking; literary journals are poised at the brink of irrelevance because they've grown too expensive and too poorly distributed to appeal to anyone but writers; the stories themselves are "airless," "show-offy," "self-referring," "self-important," and "self-conscious." Although there's evidence to support all these claims, King tries to tie them all together to prop up his thesis that the short story is "ailing," which feels like a stretch. What's definitely true is this: the traditional infrastructure that has linked short stories and audiences is undergoing a massive transformation. But death throes sounds melodramatic, and a little gleeful.

On a more positive note, a new link to another place to find book reviews: Chroma.

And upcoming deadlines for short story collection competitions:
The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award - March 31st.
Diagram's Chapbook contest - April 1st

Get those collections sent in. Good luck!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good news for two Short Review authors

Just a quick note to say congratulations - to Roy Kesey on his debut collection, All Over, making the final list for the ForeWord magazine Book of the Year in the Short Stories category, and Carys Davies, whose debut collection has been longlisted for the Welsh Book of the Year.
Both books are reviewed in this month's Short Review so take a look and see what all the fuss is about: Review of All Over Review of Some New Ambush.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Short story collections are like "a big box of chocolates"

When you've won yourself a prize like the Booker Prize, as Anne Enright (whose first published book was a short story collection) did with her novel, The Gathering, then you're "allowed" to do something as commercially dubious as publish another short story collection. And, when you're "Booker Prize winner Anne Enright" your collection gets noticed, and you appear on Simon Mayo's Bcc Five Live Book Panel and talk about your collection.

Listening to Anne talking about Taking Pictures was a treat, how she put them together, how long it took to write them. One of Simon Mayo's regular reviewers said
It's strange that people find short stories a turn-off a lot of the time because they're like pop songs or poems, there are plenty of equivalents where you can look at something again and again - you'll find something new in a song, or new in a poem every time you look at it. the joy of these is not having to read them in order. You can dip backwards and forwards. Sometimes you feel the weight on your right hand of how much of the book there is to go. You can skip to the last one and read that and then skip back. It's like a big box of chocolates, and it is just so rewarding.

When asked the by now expected question about short story collections not selling, Anne Enright said:
Everybody says they can't sell, publishers suck their teeth and say "pay us and maybe"....I like the fact that the short story is a very modest form. It suits the way people's lives are. I am fed up of people "larging" it in books. Small it!

Maybe that should be adopted as a slogan: Small It! Watch this space.
Full podcast available here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Short stories are like pandas

This week A L Kennedy said in the Observer in response to the question "Why don't we read short stories in Britain?"
That's like saying I don't like pandas because I don't spend much time with them. We do read short stories; it's amazing how much we read them, when we rarely know they've been published, because they aren't reviewed. We can't find them in bookshops and rarely see them in magazines.
The Short Review is trying to do its small part to redress the balance. Issue 5 is now available: Ten new reviews - from Irish and English debut collections to science fiction, classic flash fiction (Jayne Anne Phillips' Black Tickets) and crime. Also, five new interviews with writers - Roy Kesey, Nuala Ni Conchiur, Kim Newman, Carys Davies, Kevin Barry - about how they put together their collections, what it feels like to know people are buying your book, and more.

And as we went to press, the news came in that Kevin Barry, whose debut collection, There are Little Kingdoms, is reviewed in this issue, is on the shortlist for Best Newcomer in the Irish Book Awards. Congratulations, Kevin. Winners announced at the end of April.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Millions' Favourite short story collections & Flash stories on cell-phones

Book blog, The Millions, just held a Short Story Week. At the conclusion of the week they published their 45 favourite short story collections. The list includes quite a few titles that are new to me. Wonderful to see Aimee Bender, Lorrie Moore, George Saunders and Diane Williams on that list, some of my personal favourites. The ones reviewed on The Short Review are:

* The Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield
* Self-Help, by Lorrie Moore

So we have at least another 43 we should be reviewing, it seems.

The Millions also has a fascinating interview with short short story writer Barry Yourgrau whose book "Keitai Stories," a collection of flash stories, was released for cell phones by a prominent Japanese publishing house, before making the transition to print.

The Millions: You've been writing short stories for cell phones in Japan. When did you start? How did you come up with the idea?

BY: Got the idea when visiting In Tokyo for the first time in 2002, I saw kids surfing the Internet on cell phones (keitai). I thought my stories, which are generally very short, would be just right for cell-phone reading. Especially if I made 'em even briefer. (Which is an interesting exercise: as Woody Allen says somewhere, a general note to improve any comic writing is, Make It Shorter.)

Seems to be an excellent strategy - 100,000 readers accessed the stories online. What a great thing for the short - and short short - story!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Prizes and discussions about reviewing

Congratulations to Jim Shepard who, reports BookFox, has won the $20,000 Short Story Prize for his collection, Like You'd Understand Anyway. BookFox (who reviewed Roddy Doyle's collection, The Deportees, for Issue 4 of The Short Review) says the collection
has a zest for exploration and a penchant for far-flung corners of the earth (Chernobyl, Hadrian's Wall, space), while balancing these journeys with the ballast of traumatizing relationships.
For the rest of the blog post, click here.

Over on Fiction Bitch's blog, there has been an interesting discussion on reviewing. In a post entitled "Positive Reviewing: A Cultural Error", she says:
in my opinion a concern with the 'author' and the author's feelings is quite misplaced in any serious literary debate (and is in danger of playing into the cult of personality). Any serious critic should be concerned foremost with literature, with books and with the more general issues of literary culture, and serious writers worth their salt know that the books they have written, once they are published, are entities separate from themselves, indeed no longer their personal properties but the property of others and components of a wider literary culture.
This issue was also discussed over at book blog Vulpes Libris.

Food for thought for reviewers and readers alike.