Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Same old?

Is it just me? Why do I get the impression that almost every short story I read nowadays boils down to something like this?

So I was walking around town the other day, doing what I generally do, when this quirky little thing happened. I know, I know, not a big deal, but it’s complex and symbolic deep down, when you come to think of it, especially when you come to think of something like that happening to someone like me, with that warped personal history of mine (let me hint at it now). But, hell, that’s life, it’s so confusing and it goes on, and everything else will just continue pretty much the same way it was.

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I’ve been reading a bunch of stories lately, but I haven’t brought myself to write about them because none has sparked enough interest to do so. I preferred not to write half-hearted comments, like I did a couple times earlier in the year (although last month I did share some discontent here and there). The one story of the recent crop that probably intrigued me the most came out in One Story 132: Molly Antopol’s “The Quietest Man.” There were some flaws, sure, but it was a good, solid story.

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UPDATE (April 14): Here is Katharine Coles (“Short Fiction,” in Teaching Creative Writing, Ed. Graeme Harper [2006]), in an article I read a couple days after this post:
“The now ubiquitous ‘workshop story’, competent but uncompelling, arises, our critics tell us, not in spite of but because of our labours: our workshops create and enforce conformity, channelling students into predictable avenues and preventing them from achieving the heights they might, without our meddling, achieve. ‘Workshop stories’ infest literary journals and first books […]” (8).
Coles later says she does believe workshop stories have become too conventional, but that workshops are not altogether a bad thing: they don’t stifle truly talented authors, and they push some students into the realm of competence or beyond (11).
On another note, I forgot to mention I had complained about story molds before on the blog, as I did here (in Spanish, and in passing).

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