Precious Stones: The Art of the Short Story

studying

Think of bood red rubies, depthless emeralds, knife- sharp obsidian: these set into carefully worked settings, a filigree of delicate silver, a cup of gold, a band of carved wood. Much like the aching and precise work that goes into making a unique bed for a polished stone, the short story is a diminutive jewel of often breathtaking beauty, created with precise strokes designed to heighten the senses and spark the imagination in a single glance. Many writers have produced short stories, but only a few have done so with the care and alacrity which result in the jewels we treasure.

Fitzgerald and Hemingway wrote brilliant stories inspired by the events of their times. Edgar Allan Poe could be considered the godfather of the modern American short story. But what about more contemporary authors, those who work today to depict the wildly disparate ways we live in the world now?

 

Close Range

Annie Proulx’s wild and desperate characters populate stories thrown up against the unstoppable forces of nature. They are always tender and strong in the midst of very difficult circumstances.


From the Fifteenth District

Gallant, a Canadian ex-patriot who lived the better part of her life in Paris, wrote stories about loss and isolation, both self-imposed and enforced by circumstance. All of her many stories exemplify the crystalline perfection of fine prose and the ache of achieved and unachieved promise.


Blasphemy

Alexie gets straight to the heart of the disenfranchised. His stories explore difference and how much the same, quotidian even, our differences make us.


The Lottery and Other Stories

Who hasn’t been terrified by the title story in this collection? The classic American horror story of being the odd man out in a village that turns on you, this is the clear tale of living in our world today as anything forced outside the narrow lines of social acceptance.


In September, the Light Changes

The subtle beauty of Holleran’s prose in this collection of stories about age and the loss of youth creates mountains of swallowed sadness in the reader. Try to pinpoint the architectural points of these tales–it’s nearly impossible. They exist outside of a technical structure, built almost on air and emotion, tiny morsels of need that both fill us and leave us empty.

 

 

Michael Barnett is a writer and editor with associative ties to Alibris as strong as heartstrings.

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