Monday, 11 November 2013

Short stories and why you should embrace them

You should read short stories because each one will give you the full narrative hit—beginning, middle and end—in double-quick time. You'll get all—well, most of—the satisfaction of a novel, in one small package that might use up 15–20 minutes of your time.

It only takes that long to have your mind blown, your world expanded, your circle of kindred spirits enlarged—okay, you'll meet a few love-to-hate types as well, it's true. But really, it's such a tiny slice of your day, and in return you get to be transported to another place, another life, a consciousness that challenges or affirms your own. You say you don't have time to read? Short stories are so short, you really have no excuse.

'But they're such a tease,' you whine. 'I want to really get into a story's world, and shorts leave me hanging out for more.' You'll be wanting a single-author collection, then—possibly a collection of linked short stories that may or may not add up to a novel? Possibly a collection where an author revisits the universe they created for their trilogy, exploring all its nooks and crannies? How about an anthology where all the authors write stories set in the same fictional world? That can work, too.

You should listen to short stories because, face it, they're the exact right length for your train or bus commute. And if your job involves a lot of screen time, it's so much better for your eyes to look out the window at distant things than it is to read text from a book or e-reader.

Oh, and if you happen to have not got in a Quiet Carriage, audio short stories are super-handy for blocking out that person barking orders down their mobile, or those people having that stunningly banal conversation in the seat behind you. You can't read from a book with all that going on, but you can defend yourself, at the same time as giving your ears and brain a treat, by plugging in to your short story downloads.

And have you seen who's recording stories these days? You can have the best actors in the world give you a private reading of some small brilliant thing; the best writers in the world will read aloud to you, from their own work or someone else's.

Whoever you choose, they'll make you take in the story properly—no reading too fast, no skipping ahead, no dodging big paragraphs of description. You'll hear the whole thing perfectly paced and articulated, all its story-power intact.

If you're a writer, you should also write short stories, because they're in for a resurgence, you know. With all these e-readers and i-players, all this exploration of new publishing forms, by putting out short stories you can keep your readers aware of you in the great gulfs of time between novels. (What, you put out a book a year? All right, you're excused.) Potential venues, print and online and sometimes both, are increasing all the time.

Go on, give them a try, while it's still National Short Story Week. If you haven't sampled them before, I'm pretty sure you'll soon find yourself in the grip of a new addiction.

Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan's novels and short story collections have excited readers the world over, and won many prizes, including four World Fantasy Awards - for 'Singing My Sister Down' (Best Short Fiction, 2005), Black Juice (Best Collection, 2005), Tender Morsels (Best Novel, 2009) and Sea-Hearts (Best Novella, 2010). Her latest collection of stories is Yellowcake.

Margo lives in Sydney, Australia. Find out more on her blog:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

National Short Story Week event: short story broadcasts in Doncaster

For the second year running, Sine FM will be taking part in National Short Story Week.

A short story a day will be broadcast at noon each day from and including Monday 11 November through Friday 15 November. This will be followed by an omnibus edition on Saturday 16 November at 10 am.

Sine FM (102.6) is Doncaster's local radio station, the first not-for-private-profit station in the area. Sine was created to provide a platform for creative expression and a distinctive, accessible community radio service, celebrating the diversity of Doncaster.

Sine FM

National Short Story Week event: short story broadcasts in Reading

Throughout National Short Story Week, Hospital Radio Reading will be broadcasting stories by Thames Valley Writers' Circle members, read by members of the Progress Theatre of Reading.

The stories will be broadcast during the station's 'story at bedtime' slot, which is one of their most popular features.

National Short Story Week event: Story Time for Grown Ups

Date of event: 15 November 2013
Time of event: 11.30am
Venue:  Heysham Library, Heysham Road, Heysham. Morecambe Lancs. LA3 2BJ

Members of the writing group 'Today's Writers' will read share their favourite stories and invite the audience to do the same.

For more information: jeanwithers[at]

National Short Story Week event: U3A writing group anthology

To celebrate National Short Story Week, Ashton-in-Makerfield and District U3A Creative Writing Group have compiled their second annual anthology of members' stories.

The anthology will be available from the regional U3A website, and can also be downloaded as a PDF here:

Write On 2 - Ashton-in-Makerfield and District U3A Creative Writing Group

Where is My Mask of an Honest Man? by Laura Del-Rivo

Where is my Mask of an Honest Man? is a powerful collection of short stories set in and around Notting Hill, London W11. Though the stories share a common setting, they deal with a wide variety of issues and range from stark realism to the surreal.

‘Dark Angel’, part 1 set in 1951 and part 2 in 1982, could be seen as the author’s commentary on her debut novel The Furnished Room, filmed by Michael Winner. It covers similar ground but now seen through the prism of the author’s wickedly evolved style.

This and a few other stories feature Joseph Kuhlman a ‘hip descendant of a tribe of lying prophets and psychotic visionaries’, who may know more about a murder with a ballpoint pen. Yet, in other stories, it’s the perk of the reader to decide whether he is the patient or the doctor.

‘J Krissman in the Park’ deals with the travails of an ageing writer, contemplating his rejections while surrounded by happy families in a park.

‘The Professor A Katz Memorial Evening’ is a hilarious account of Elizabeth Woolacott, a large-boned, energetic woman, giving a talk to mathematicians.

The title story, the longest, is perhaps the most autobiographical. In it 78-year-old Joan Byker develops a severe crush on her 38-year-old landlord, Harry Brightling. Set in the present day, the story is again beautifully observed, and you feel you’re there with Joan and Harry in the key scene on the roof of Vernon Crescent. Their conversations keep taking you by surprise.

Laura’s skill in describing people and her gift for writing dialogue makes this a collection full of breathtakingly observations about life.

Laura Del-Rivo by Tony Annis
 About Laura

Laura Del-Rivo was born in 1934 into a middle-class family in Cheam, Surrey. She became part of a loose group of writers that included Colin Wilson and Bill Hopkins. Her debut novel The Furnished Room was published in 1961. It was hailed by Colin Wilson as ‘one of the significant novels of the 1960s’.

In 1963 The Furnished Room was turned into a film, West 11, by the late Michael Winner. The Furnished Room was republished by Five Leaves Press in 2011. Laura’s other novels include Daffodil on the Pavement and more recently Speedy and Queen Kong, which was published by Paupers’ Press in 2004.

Laura Del-Rivo was photographed by Ida Kar and was featured in the Ida Kar retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery. She lives in Notting Hill and runs a designer tights stall on the famous Portobello Market. Laura has always kept on writing, and all these strands seem to come together in a remarkable short story collection Where is my Mask of an Honest Man?

From the reviews:

‘She allows the characters to narrate for themselves, using words with precision and deftness which is combined with an ear for contemporary dialogue.’ - Emma Lee on her blog

‘A series of poetic short stories with diverse characters woven among the tapestry of life’s experiences. Prose, poetic and captivating scenery makes this read unique and different.’ - book feature on Laura's Book List

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

National Short Story Week event: Eat Your Words

Date: Saturday 16th November
Time: 10am-12 noon
Venue: Liskerrett Community Centre, Varley Ln, Liskeard, Cornwall PL14 4AP

Eat Your Words – as part of National Short Story Week the Caradon Writers are holding a mini workshop on the craft of writing short stories with Lianne Crocker. Liskerrett Community Centre, 10am-12 noon. Cost £5 including cake. Book your place on 01579 362586 or email caradonwritersgroup[at]


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...