Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Good Fit for Today’s Little Screens: Short Stories


The Internet may be disrupting much of the book industry, but for short-story writers it has been a good thing.
Story collections, an often underappreciated literary cousin of novels, are experiencing a resurgence, driven by a proliferation of digital options that offer not only new creative opportunities but exposure and revenue as well.

Already, 2013 has yielded an unusually rich crop of short-story collections, including George Saunders’s “Tenth of December,” which arrived in January with a media splash normally reserved for Hollywood movies and moved quickly onto the best-seller lists. Tellingly, many of the current and forthcoming collections are not from authors like Mr. Saunders, who have always preferred short stories, but from best-selling novelists like Tom Perrotta, who are returning to the form.

Recent and imminent releases include “Vampires in the Lemon Grove,” by Karen Russell, whose 2011 novel, “Swamplandia,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; “Damage Control,” a first collection by Amber Dermont, whose novel “The Starboard Sea” was a best seller in 2012; and another first story collection, “We Live in Water,” by Jess Walter, just off his best-selling novel “Beautiful Ruins” (2012).

“It is the culmination of a trend we have seen building for five years,” said Cal Morgan, the editorial director of Harper Perennial Originals, who until last year ran a blog called Fifty-Two Stories, devoted to short fiction. “The Internet has made people a lot more open to reading story forms that are different from the novel, and you see a generation of writers very engaged in experimentation.”

In recent decades the traditional outlets for individual short stories have dwindled, with literary magazines closing or shrinking. But the Internet has created an insatiable maw to feed. 

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