Friday, April 26, 2013

How to Read a Short Story

I finish reading Black Dahlia & White Rose, a collection of seriously creepy stories by Joyce Carol Oates. Although I'm not a huge fan of short stories, this is the third short story collection I've read in the past year. Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman being the other two. They are growing on me, these books of short stories.
Leaf Storm is incredible. So is The Red Garden. The stories in Leaf Storm revolve around Macondo, a fictional town in Colombia. They are horizontal because they all take place in about the same time period. The stories in The Red Garden are about Blackwell, Massachusetts and they are vertical in that the tales occur in a linear progression through time.

The twine that binds the stories in Black Orchid & White Rose is twisting. Oate's needle inserts itself into the human psyche and extracts disturbing grey matter. A few of them are really good for what they are: biopsies.

The trick I've found to reading short stories is reading them one day at a time. Kind of a reading hors d'oeuvre. That works well. It can take me a while to get through them, but I enjoy them more that way. It gives me at least twenty-four hours to absorb what I've read.