Reader’s Notes: Short Stories

As I have said here before, I start a lot of books. The lion’s share I do not finish.

When I start a novel or non-fiction book and get to a place where the writing or plot bog down for me, I start looking around for something more interesting to read.

For this reason, I easily start hundreds of books a year. Some I read only a few pages. Some half-way. Some three-quarters.

As I think about it now, I bring this same approach to movies and television. I can only watch until I get to the point where I start looking around for something more interesting to read.

The number of books I “finish” (or movies or television series, for that matter) is really quite small.

It is not a matter of critical worth. I can just as easily abandon the best book, the best writer, the best movie, or the best television series as the worst. It is, I suppose, merely a matter of mood. The book, the subject, the writer, the movie, the series, fits my mood at that time.

I think because of this tendency of mine, I have been reading, and re-reading, a lot of short stories of late. All kinds: “Literary,” Horror, Westerns, Science Fiction, Fantasy.

Short stories do not require that much of a commitment from me as a reader. They “showcase” what is best about the writer (Hemingway, Faulkner). Most of all, I think, the best short stories are like the best poems, transformative.

Saki Cover

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