Thursday, September 13, 2007

Writing Novels vs. Writing Short Stories

"With a novel, you can win by a decision, but with a short story you have to win by a knockout.” So says Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and who am I to disagree? In fact, in my limited writing experience, I have found that to be the case. A story requires the kind of intense, relentless, focused editing that borders on OCD, while a novel may have to be tidied up somewhat, but ultimately its tangents can be part of the charm. My reading experience is broader than my writing experience, and it is the rare piece of short fiction that rambles on loosely, finally winning by cult of personality. But many, many novels have won me over with their charm.

The summer reading junk feast is over. The 'beach books' that we pull out right after spring break and keep through Labor Day on the desk, bedside table, beside the reading chair and lamp on the sleeping porch, in the weekend travel bag.....well, it's time to put them away and update the stack. They're all mostly read now anyway.

But it's still fun to talk about the good juicy 'reads'. Kind of like indulging in a hot fudge sundae instead of lunch on the hottest day of the year. You know you shouldn't consume the empty calories, but somehow, just this once, it seems like the only right thing to do.

So. Come on, share. What did you read during those long, hot days that dragged into Dog Days and now beyond? What was your hot weather indulgence? When you should have been weeding the flower bed or washing the car, what book lured you to a comfy chair instead, a glass of iced tea by your side?

Quick, before your tan fades and you forget all the details, confess.


Jeff Landon said...

Hey Anita,
This summer I read some Graphic Novels--"Fun House" and "Box Office Poison"--and, let's see, Amy Hempel's Collected Stories, because I love the way she writes, even if I don't love every story, and collections by Pamela Painter, Lydia Davis and and Rick Bass. That's all I remember. My tan is fading as we speak. Hi!

Anita Miller Garner said...

I always love to hear about your reading taste, Mr. Cutting Edge Voice in Fiction. Love, love, love that last story of yours in MS REVIEW, the one you read at AWP. After the drought became wicked and the temps over 100, my sweetie and I just lay around in the air-conditioning, reading mostly James Lee Burke novels. One Michael Knight. Some Jill McCorkle. The lawn was dead anyway. Thanks for visiting!