Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

Synopsis

Short stories have enjoyed a long and popular history, with many famous writers attempting the craft at some point or another. Here, Lee assembles a variety of writers who comment on the form itself and its many meanings and manifestations. Concentrating on the features and challenges of the short story, contributors from Amiri Baraka to Richard Ford and Jayne Anne Phillips to Janette Turner Hospital discuss their own writing, the writing of others, the short story form, gender, politics, and other issues concerning the writing of short fiction. Readers will come away with a fuller understanding and appreciation of the craft of the short story writer.

Taking a populist approach to the subject, Writers on Writing focuses on relaying to readers the truth about short story writing. Writers from around the globe reveal the secrets of the form and their own approaches to it, as well as criticism of other writers and their output. Challenging some of the traditional views of past and current critics about short fiction, they present a new outlook on the short story that speaks to both the short story writer and the short story reader.

Excerpt

The idea for this text began in 1994, when I was asked to be the next director of an international short-story conference, with a commitment to the stories being written in English. I was at the University of Northern Iowa, and Dr. Mary Rohrberger, the cosponsor of the previous conference, which had been held jointly at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa in 1992, asked me to consider taking on the task of directing the conference. By directing, she meant gathering a list of writers and scholars to invite to the conference, getting external and internal funding, and developing a program. I was convinced over a glass of scotch and Godiva chocolates.

We settled on a theme, “Voices of Diversity,” and put together a stellar list of writers, which included Isabel Allende, Amiri Baraka, Richard Bausch, Clark Blaise, Richard Ford, Wilson Harris, Bharati Mukherjee, Judith OrtizCofer, Sonia Sanchez, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Amy Tan. Noted critics invited and attended included Selwyn Cudjoe, Daryl Dance, Suzanne Ferguson, Morton Levitt, Susan Lohafer, Charles May, Annis Pratt, Kenneth Ramchand, Austin Wright, and of course, Mary Rohrberger, who is known as the most prominent critic of the short story since her book Story to AntiStory appeared in the 1960s. What impressed me about the conference was the intellectual exchange between writers and critics and the fact that they were often in disagreement about the genre as it related to both creativity and meaning, but were often in agreement about its importance in the classroom or in the field of American letters. I did detect a bit of frustration among the writers, because they were the creators of the literature, but others (i.e., the . . .

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