Nobody ever says they want to write the great American short story. Or the great American novella. It’s the novel, always the novel.
This is a shame. These literary forms – the short story and the novella – can be every bit as powerful and carry the same literary punch as their larger cousins. Furthermore, these forms are a great way to fit some reading into your busy schedule. Short stories are also good ways to explore genres or authors you’ve always wondered about but were never quite able to get around to.
Here are some suggestions if you don’t know where to start.
The library recently acquired some new editions of Richard Russo’s short stories. These stories are bound individually and are easy to overlook in the stacks – they are so small! Thirty or forty short pages, you can knock one of these out in one sitting easily.
Still not sure about George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series? Check out his “Tales of Dunk and Egg”, set several years before the events of the novels.
Not ready to commit to an 800 page screamer by Stephen King? Try some of the stuff in Everything’s Eventual – a nice mix of horror and more literary stories.
Maybe you’d like to try an up-and-coming modern writer. Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised By Wolves is full of surrealist character driven stories.
Finally, one of my favorite books – A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller – is actually three novellas combined into a single work, tying together in a grand epic.