The short story still has plenty of life left in itby The White Review / December 17, 2012 / Leave a comment
The short story is an overlooked art form in this country. Too often treated as a proving ground in which writers can try out an idea or advertise their talent, it is among the most vital forms of literary expression. The constraint on length frees the short story from the traditional novel’s responsibility to describe an entire world, making it a mode uniquely appropriate to our fractured, alienated and accelerated twenty-first-century existence.
Responsibility for the form’s neglect lies partly with the difficulty of publishing a collection of short stories. This disregard is exacerbated by the relative scarcity of outlets to which the short story writer can submit her work. The US has a plethora of journals devoted to promoting the short story form (the Paris Review, n+1, McSweeney’s, the Believer, Zoetrope, Tin House), and Ireland is served by the brilliant Dublin Review and Stinging Fly. Here there is Granta, but its consistently high standard is guaranteed by the fact that it largely publishes established writers. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find Craig Raine’s Areté, the venerable Ambit (where JG Ballard was fiction editor many years ago) and Litro in print, and the likes of 3:AM Magazine and Untitled Books online. All are worth seeking out.
The White Review joins these publications in their efforts to encourage the form by launching, with the generous support of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, a short story prize. We’re offering a £2,500 award to the best story by an unpublished writer, and we’re aiming to promote short stories that actively engage with the particular opportunities offered by the form. As an illustration of that, and a prompt to any prospective entrants to the prize, here are five collections that we admire, and which together demonstrate the uniquely versatile nature of the short story form:
China Miéville, Looking for Jake (2005)