Monday, September 24, 2012

Short Story Shuffle


I love Short Stories.  I love Compilations of short stories.  I love observational essays and feature articles and I love Compilations of essays and feature articles.  Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love Nora Ephron.  I was quite sad when I heard she had passed away earlier this year, never to observe again.  I enjoy reading compilations and I have quite a few of them on my bookshelves. 

Compiled features, articles, stories, poems etc. are wonderful.  
"When the going gets tough, the Compilations get got."  

The beauty of a compilation lies in the immediacy, rapidity and simplicity.  You can pick up one book and have humour, drama, fact, fiction, thrill and escape.  When you read a short story (or feature article), you can usually do it in single sitting.  Our school library calls them "rapid reads" and they are often checked out by our reluctant readers.  When life is so busy/ crazy reading is a must for me (you know the need to escape), but it is almost impossible (the pesky need to be present by the hospital bed or at the desk).  Novel reading (and worse, educational reading) requires remembering.  Novels (well, good ones) create a world in your head and entice you to live there for a while; to make friends with the characters and become involved in the plot.  Short stories can do this too, but they don't do it for as long.  When life is making me crazy and I want to escape, but know that I shouldn't, I go to the compilation shelf.  

Compilations are not too taxing.  Short Stories allow their readers to escape, but just for a little while.  Feature Articles are interesting and easy to relate to without being heavier than a newspaper.  The world feels a little smaller when you read a feature and you realise that people are people and you are not alone.  Can you see why I would head towards the compilations when things are rough?  It is the ease. 

I have a medical condition which sometimes makes it difficult for me to concentrate.  My dad was recently in hospital; lots of waiting interrupted, often, by doctors, nurses, physios and visitors.  It is next to impossible to get into anything requiring thought. So, a compilation is great.  You can dip into it quickly and easily, wherever and whenever.  Interruptions are not such a big deal and you still get to escape albeit for a short time.  
 
Can you see it now?  

The three compilation books I headed for in the last three weeks were, Pieces for the Left Hand by J. Robert Lennon, Shoe Money by Maggie Alderson and Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes.  
 

Drop by tomorrow for 10 things Tuesday when I will give you a list of 10 compilation books that are “must haves” for the reading rough patch. 

Happy Monday and Happy Reading!
J



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