November 19, 2013, by Jon McGregor

Some notes from a lecture on the shortness of the short story

In my day job as a writer in residence at the University of Nottingham’s School of English, I sometimes have the pleasure of standing in front of a crowd of students and telling them some things I think I know about reading and writing. Today I gave a talk about short stories, and in particular the nature and implications of their shortness. I’m not going to reproduce it here, but in essence the talk revolved around the idea that a short story’s defining feature is that it can be read in a single sitting; from which all manner of implications for the reader and writer flow.

Click on ‘read more’ for the list of further reading and links I promised those of you who attended the lecture.

Books referred to in ‘The Shortness of the Short Story’:

‘Collected Stories’, Lydia Davis, (Hamish Hamilton, 2010)

‘The Braindead Megaphone’, George Saunders (Bloomsbury, 2009)

‘Forty Stories’, Donald Barthelme (Penguin Classics)

‘A Confederate General From Big Sur’, Richard Brautigan (Rebel Inc, o/p)

‘Revenge of the Lawn,’ Richard Brautigan (Canongate, RP 2006)

Books mentioned in passing:

‘Selected Stories’, Alice Munro, (Vintage, 1996)

‘Married Love’, Tessa Hadley, (Vintage, 2013)

Further reading:


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