A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English

A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English

A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English

A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English

Synopsis

Though many outstanding novels have been written in the last century, most of these novelists have also been short story writers. This reference is a guide to contemporary English-language short story writers and their works. Included are alphabetically arranged entries on roughly 50 writers from around the world, most of whom have been active since 1960. More than half the American writers belong to historically marginalized groups, such as Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans, and the volume includes entries for slightly more women than men. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and provides biographical material, a review of criticism, an extended analysis of specific works, and a selected bibliography.

Excerpt

The extraordinary output of short stories in the English-speaking world has led several scholars and critics to suggest that the genre will be recognized as the preeminent form in the twentieth century in the same way that the novel was in the nineteenth. This is not to say that the novel did not have its share of superior practitioners, but in almost every case novelists were or are also short-story writers, and in many cases the short stories in their integrity and coherence are better formed than the novels and likely will be remembered longer—those of Sherwood Anderson, for example, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Anne Porter, or Eudora Welty, to name just a few that come to mind.

The stories discussed in this volume were, with one exception, written in the latter half of the twentieth century, most deriving from 1960 to the present. This was the time when degrees in creative writing multiplied (exponentially, I sometimes think) until almost every English department in the academy established an M.F.A. and/or Ph.D. program in the field. Writing workshops punctuated summer sessions around the world. In these programs, those interested in fiction mainly pursued their interests in writing short stories since novels are not easy to handle in workshops and are seldom undertaken. It is not surprising, then, that many an emerging writer’s first publication is a collection of short stories. Thus the university was not only hiring writers and producing writers skilled in the form but also training readers. In this way, the academy created a reading public knowledgeable in how to read a short story—a necessary prerequisite, as Poe first declared when he suggested that readers need to read “the tale” with an art “kindred” to that employed by the writers themselves.

The latter half of the twentieth century also saw an important move toward diversity in the literary canon. In fact, never has there been so sweeping a change in the canon common to the English-speaking world as the one that took place in the last thirty or so years of the twentieth century. Certainly previous eras evidenced their share of changes, but not without battle. Scholars in our not-

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