Monday, October 01, 2007

The American Short Story Intrigue

Last week it was Philippine Speculative Fiction, this week it's the state of the American Short Story. Anyway, Stephen King has an essay in the New York Times entitled What Ails the Short Story:
So — American short story alive? Check. American short story well? Sorry, no, can’t say so. Current condition stable, but apt to deteriorate in the years ahead. Measures to be taken? I would suggest you start by reading this year’s “Best American Short Stories.” They show how vital short stories can be when they are done with heart, mind and soul by people who care about them and think they still matter. They do still matter, and here they are, liberated from the bottom shelf.
Currently, I've seen two reactions to the piece. There's Ellen Datlow for example:
His comments especially trouble me because nowhere does Mr. King mention the continually entertaining and fertile grounds from which he sprung—science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Yes, the short story (mainstream and genre) is suffering from a lack of visibility, but entertaining and literate short fiction is indeed being published —just check out some of the original anthologies and magazines regularly publishing literature of the fantastic, such as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Subterranean Magazine, Cemetery Dance. During the twenty years I’ve co-edited The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror I’ve read hundreds of dark fantasy and horror stories and neither I nor my fantasy co-editors have had any trouble filling our 250,000 volume with stories that excite us and our readers.
Nick Mamatas's take, on the other hand, I would have missed if, quite frankly, I wasn't more aware. It's entitled What Ails the American Taffy Pull:
So — American taffy pull alive? Check. American taffy pull well? Sorry, no, can’t say so. Current condition stable, but apt to deteriorate in the years ahead. Measures to be taken? I would suggest you start by heading down to your local boardwalk before they shut down for the winter and buying up all the locally made taffy you can get your hands on. They'll show how vital taffy can be when it is pulled with heart, mind and soul by people who care about it and thinks it still matters. They it still matter, and here it is, liberated from the bottom shelf.

1 comment:

bhex said...

i like that. more food = literature comparisons XD