Friday, July 25, 2008
Short story collection news: Short story collection wins New Zealand's Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry.
Two of the four books shortlisted for the Montana Medal were short story collections, the second being Luminious by Alice Tawhai.
Congratulations to Charlotte, who wins $5000, and who also took home the $1000 BPANZ Reviewer of the Year Award! Read more about her on the New Zealand Writers site.
So many short story collections to read, so little time.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Very interesting guest post over at Dawn's She Is Too Fond of Books blog by Christopher Meeks, author of two short story collections, The Middle Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons, about the process of getting published and how he marketed and promoted his collections. He hired a publicist for the second collection:
I hired a publicist so that the book might be reviewed in publishing industry journals such as Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, places that bookstores and libraries read to select what books they order. My publicist called to say she’d just spoken with Booklist, a major journal for librarians. “They said they rarely review short story collections—maybe two a year—and it has to be from a big-name author.” I wasn’t big name.
If librarians don’t see the book reviewed, how can short story collections get in libraries? If libraries don’t offer a lot of collections, then how do people consider short story collections? If book reviewers don’t consider collections, then it’s not on the radar of ordinary readers. Thus, it’s an extra challenge to get a short story collection seen.
It is saddening, this response from Booklist, as if short stories are so odd, different, unloveable, that of course Booklist wouldn't consider them. Where does this come from, this reaction? Why do we have to constantly defend the short story collection, prove and prove and prove again how it should simply be included - not put on a pedestal and lauded above the novel, just included. What a great loss for all those who miss out on wondrous writing because of this attitude.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Congratulations to Clare, the youngest shortlisted author, who we interviewed and whose debut collection, The Loudest Sound and Nothing, we reviewed on The Short Review. And congratulations to the other four authors who were shortlisted - and the other 595 of us who sent a story in, even if we didn't make it ... this year. Clare, what will you spend the money on??
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I have enjoyed short stories through most of my life, and found the process of reading the entries a genuine pleasure. With many younger writers as well as more established names, there was immense variety. There were also some bizarre points of concurrence. What is it in the zeitgeist that made at least three of the entries write about the Sami people of Finland or drove others to choose the Fens or pick the Hindu goddess Kumari as a theme?She also says:
Overall, we felt that there was a polarisation in the entries, with true excellence at the top of the field and then a drop in quality. Too many of the stories felt like compressed novels. Others had striven too hard for “the big ending” or predictable twist in the tale. The perfect short story arrests the reader’s attention immediately and then goes on to illuminate an entire life through one scene or a few actions.
Full article here: FT.com / Arts & Weekend / Living - The Diary: Martha Kearney
Thursday, July 10, 2008
THE PALE OF SETTLEMENT is a stunning collection of interwoven narratives that delves deep into the human need for both belonging and moral integrity. Singer examines origins, cruelties and beliefs in the context of the nefarious nature of memory as a vehicle for obtaining truth. While some of Singer’s characters are literally digging for material shards that might prove ancient texts valid, the ashes of another character are by chance winds. Impermanence and timeless truth struggle in these pages, finding characters, language and form that are at once recognizable and original.
Singer’s short story collection, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, also received an honorable mention for the 2008 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and was a finalist for the 2008 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Singer wins $2500. For more information, see http://shenandoah.wlu.edu/
Monday, July 7, 2008
What do we have this month? Four collections that were longlisted for the world's richest short story prize, the Frank O'Connor international short story award:
- Vanessa Gebbie's Words from a Glass Bubble,
- Booker winner Anne Enright's Taking Pictures,
- Niki Aguirre's 29 Ways to Drown and
- Richard Bardsley's Body Parts.
There is an added dimension here: Niki Aguirre, whose collection is reviewed by Sarah Salway (whose own collection, Leading the dance, we reviewed several months ago) herself reviewed Vanessa Gebbie's collection, and both are interviewed on their Author Pages.
I wondered about whether to run these both in the same issue, and then I thought that they could be seen as short story writers who have never met, communicating through their writing. For example, if you combine their interviews you can almost hear them chatting:
TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?Alongside these four collections, we have: uncanny and quirky stories from Richard Matheson (Button, Button) and Aimee Bender (Willful Creatures). Aimee is also interviewed about the book, her second collection. Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things are a little too fragile and fleeting for our reviewer, a Gaiman fan, and the Sea Stories anthology didn't go down swimmingly. 2007's Best of American Short Stories was rather hit and miss, despite being full of big names.
Vanessa Gebbie: Something that takes you out of yourself for the duration of the read. Something that leaves you thinking or wondering. Asks the question, 'What if?' I found this quote the other day by the late Bryan Robertson OBE, curator of the Whitechapel Gallery. It sums up what I look for in a story, however long it is, flash, short, novella or novel... "What I look for is…a transcendent ability to soar above life and not be subjugated by it." Isn't that perfect?
Niki Aguirre: ... due to my upbringing, I prefer those that are rich in the oral storytelling tradition. The best ones are the ones you get lost in: multilayered, babbling and chaotic, not necessary neat and linear. If you think about it, when you are sitting in a café or a pub telling a story, it seldom goes from point to point: the little asides are the best parts. Stories are often desperate things, dying to be voiced and heard -- nothing calm and organised about that. Although I admire people who can write succinctly and in an orderly fashion while still maintaining a good level of excitement. That’s something to strive for.
So, some hearty recommendations and some rather more wary reviews.
And: following the poll on this blog, where a majority voted for having direct links from reviews to booksellers (as long as it isn't to just one seller), you can now click straight through from the new reviews to buy the book from the publisher's and author's websites (if available), Amazon, AbeBooks and BetterWorldsBooks.com (used and new) and there is a friendly reminder to visit IndieBound.org to find your nearest independent bookstore (if you live in the US). We hope that this makes your Short Review reading experience richer... but don't forget, pass those short story collections around!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
For more on the prize, see the articles in the Guardian and the Irish Times.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Congratulations to Short Review author Clare Wigfall, whose collection The Loudest Sound and Nothing we reviewed a few months ago, has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with her story, The Numbers. The full shortlist is:
Richard Beard Guidelines for Measures to Cope with Disgraceful and Other Events
Jane Gardam The People on Privilege Hill
Erin Soros Surge
Adam Thorpe The Names
Clare Wigfall The Numbers
The winner will be announced at a breakfast on Monday 14 July, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Good luck to all five!