Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

By Maurice A. Lee | Go to book overview

My Sister—The Short Story

Karen King-Aribisala

As a woman, as a black woman writer of the African diaspora, I consider the Short Story a dear sister; one with whom I can empathize, share thoughts, and through her and with her revolutionize and transform not only my situation but those of others similarly defined in terms of a supposedly derogatory physicaliry.

There is no need here to relate that peculiar angst of racial and gender oppression to which the black diasporan female is often subjected—given her historical legacy of slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism in many areas of the world. Suffice it to say that the worth of the black female of the diaspora is more than often not determined by her physicality, and that her sister the Short Story shares the same dilemma. When placed alongside her other generic relatives, such as the Novel, Drama, or Poetry, the Short Story is deemed inferior, simply because she is short; which is surely an injustice when one considers that one of her sisters, Poetry, as a genre, is usually shorter than the Short Story; but this particular poetry-sister (or possibly brother) is not seen as a kind of apology, as an excuse for being short. Her inherent poetic value as a genre is not questioned. No one, so to speak, feels the compunction to argue her poetic case, or indeed, justice; she has an unquestioned right to “poetryness.” Not so her short sister, the Short Story.

It is interesting to note that in the United States short people prefer to perceive of themselves as being “vertically challenged” as opposed to “short,” the latter definition containing within it a sense of importance, meaning, “combative” worth, and defiance of presumed inferior status.

Vertically challenged as we are and very conscious of our limits and limitations, the Short Story and I use ourselves and perceive of ourselves as weapons

-74-

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