I just recently finished reading this collection of short stories called Lost on Purpose: Women in the City. In this collection, the better stories are, definitely, saved for last. If you happen to put your hands on it, the better stories are Borderlines by Calla Devlin, I’m Happy, You’re Happy, We’re All Happy by Colette Paul, Double Cutaway by Gail Louise Siegel, Timing by Tara Ison, and He’s Not Here by Gale R. Walden. I would definitely have to say the Siegel story engaged me in a way I hadn’t been involved in quite some time. However, I am not out to discuss the pros and cons of each of these individual stories, except merely to exclaim a wish to see more short story literature.
I have never taken a literature class on the tenets of a great short story, so I admit I may have no idea what I am talking about. However, I do like that short stories leave you with the feeling that you’ve met someone really interesting. So intriguing that you won’t stop thinking about that chance encounter the rest of the day. Short stories are like a good conversation with an old friend that you speak to once or twice a year. It is just enough. You do not wish for more, nor less.
The short is completely self-contained. All the answers are within those three to fifty pages. There is no need to worry about what happens to the characters. The story is too short for it to really offer concrete possibilities. It is more likely that the story will have an open-ending. I like free endings that allow your imagination to continue marinating. I cherish that you can spend as much or as little time with a short story as you desire. The commitment is not nearly as burdensome as with novels. For some reason, I feel this need to finish a novel, even as soon it is clear that I will not enjoy the trek. And this is clearly not an issue with the short story. However, I do not like that often short stories are always leaving with you some sort of moral/ethical message. I think the best short stories, or rather the more entertaining ones, are a snapshot of a stranger’s life, allowing the reader to take a twenty to thirty minute field trip, sans the permission slip, in their otherwise routine mundane life.
Revolution Time. Bring back the shorts.