30 August 2012

Really something

The kind of short stories I like best give something up – reveal or yield something that is not otherwise, not by any other means, explicable. You couldn't get there, for instance, with a poem; you couldn't get there with a novel. The "something" might be a single resonant image or a moment of nuanced emotion, but whatever its nature it is so utterly itself, so utterly belonging to the story, that we (the readers) know it is true, and therefore universal. Not every short story is like this but this is the kind I like. I like the revelation and I like it best when it is simply there and the writer isn't hitting me over the head with it, or pointing all kinds of arrows to it, or screaming it in neon. I like the moment when the skin of something is pulled back just a little bit and I get to peek inside. I don't want to necessarily be inside. But I don't mind if it gets inside me, you know – if it gets inside my own skin, then it's really something.

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