As someone whose short story predilections veer towards interconnected or strongly themes collections, I'm starting to pay more attention to how stories come together. When I started Siobhan Fallon's You Know When the Men Are Gone (my review), I intended to read one story most days, as I'm prone to do. Instead I devoured it like a novel, partially because the stories and characters shared a place and space. Collections from multiple writers, such as the Best American Short Stories series, easily lend themselves to reading one at a time. Telling where story collections from a single writer will fall has proven to be more difficult.
On Literary Monogamy
I'm not one prone to book polygamy. I try to avoid it because I can't help but play favorites and favor one book. I do try to have an audiobook going (currently Anne of Green Gables, which is lovely and nostalgic), but otherwise, I just want to be reading one book at a time. As I deliberately read more short stories, however, I sometimes find myself in a conundrum: is this collection a cohesive whole or not? Should it be the only book I'm reading or can I parse out one story each day?
Where Music Meets Literature
I still believe the shuffle button on cd players is still one of the greatest inventions ever; MP3 players made my love of shuffling explode. I rarely believe albums should be listened to in order (or even in their entirety.) Mr. Nomadreader, on the other hand, will only purchase entire albums and never individual songs. Meanwhile, I regularly Shazam the songs from television drama montages and instantly purchase them. As a novel-lover, I never saw the connection until recently, but short stories are like songs. Anthologies are a literary mixtape, collections are albums, and The New Yorker is my favorite literary radio station. There's a place for stories in all of these areas. When I begin a collection of stories, I find myself recalling my younger self who would eagerly unwrap a new cd to listen. Would it become a favorite with many wonderful songs, or would only a few stand out? It's difficult to know until I'm invested, but I'm enjoying short stories more, regardless of how I read them, and that is a success.
Now tell me. How do you like your short stories: in anthologies, in collections or a la cart?
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