Short stories have gone largely unnoticed by the greater reading community. Coming to the forefront with stories like “Harrison Bergeron” or “The Lottery,” short stories are taught and often treated as criticisms.
Though all writing is overtly political in some sense, not all stories are criticism. However, there is a certain sensibility around the reading of short stories that has bled into the public consciousness.
Though, short story collections are more than that. Short story collections are edited and formatted for particular narrative and thematic purposes. Short stories are the brief pictures of artistic license.
Take the Weird collection “The Beast that Shouted Love at The Heart of the World,” a collection of short stories by Harlan Ellison. Collecting fifteen stories in a sci-fi, horror anthology, Ellison’s novel reads like a TV series.
“S.R.O.” and “Santa Clause vs. S.P.I.D.E.R.” are notable stories within the collection. Given a sleepy Sunday, Ellison’s collection makes a nice, though dated, look at the genre. They are brief and powerful sci-fi tales that inspired better stories.
Stories like Octavia E. Butler’s “Bloodchild and Other Stories,” which has the Hugo and Nebula award-winning story “Bloodchild,” explores the what-if of “men getting pregnant.” Horror and social commentary surrounding reproductive rights mix to form a brief thirty-page tale.
In this way, short stories are brief windows into worlds created by the author in self-contained formats. Look at “Orientation” by Daniel Orozco, where each story explores a narrative that can only exist as a short story, like a love story over police scanners.
While the collection “Go Down, Moses” tells seven interconnected stories of Faulkner’s mythic Yoknapatawpha County. Each collection expanding upon, and fleshing out respective portions of their worlds.
Though, some collections absorb several stories across cultures and genres and present them in a compact novel. For example, “One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories” collects twenty-three short stories from around the globe. Moving between several perspectives and nations. The anthology serves the purpose of involving and talking about cultural perspectives and human experience.
Short stories are a special form of art. Short stories, as the name hints at, attempts to tell as much as possible, in the briefest of pages. For authors, this presents a harrowing challenge of editing and word choice. For readers, this is a rare opportunity to see what is possible with only a few pages of writing.
Active readers should have “Welcome to the Monkey House” and “Her Body and Other Parties” at their bedside or a place nearby since the stories inside are brief challenges to our expectations. Reading is a gift, and short stories is a way to enjoy it.
During your next break, find a short story on the internet or get a collection from your local library and experience something new, with the fewest number of pages of course.
Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him firstname.lastname@example.org.