May is National Short Story Month — don't worry if you forgot; it is impossible to remember all of our self-imposed celebrations (for example, today is the official Do The Dishes Day...but you can conveniently forget that now). But now you know!
Short stories are one of fiction's most vital and necessary exports, though often they are not read with the frequency or fervor of longer novels. Stories are seen as gateway writing: get a story published in a venerable literary magazine, get a book deal. Publish a debut book of short stories, and a novel may not be far away. Many readers (and writers) still see novels as the great accomplishment, with stories as an appetizer. And no one will doubt that The Great Gatsby is a superior work of art to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Fitzgerald's primary gift to the world. But I'd still take one Fitzgerald short story over several other authors' full-length books to an island.
As people start to want shorter, more digestible bits of fiction delivered to their iPhones and Kindles, the short story may actually be making cultural headway in a new way. And those writers who have spent their lives devoted to the short form — to crafting moments filled with dramatic tension that have high-stakes and end swiftly — are poised to experience a kind of revival (or at least a girl can dream they are). With iPhone apps like Storyville and concepts like the Library of America's "Story of the Week" or the New Yorker's short fiction podcast, old stories are slowly becoming new again.
We decided, in honor of the month, to dig up some of our favorite NPR interviews with and pieces on writers of the short form. In some of these cases, the authors are discussing their longer work, but we've provided suggestions for story collections to check out should you be inspired to celebrate NSSM right along with us. Enjoy!
1) Lorrie Moore
Collection suggestions: Self-Help, Birds of America, Like Life
2) Tobias Wolff
Collection suggestion: Our Story Begins
3) John Updike
Collection suggestions: The Early Stories, My Father's Tears and Other Stories
4) Alice Munro
Collection suggestions: Too Much Happiness, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
5) Lydia Davis
Collection suggestion: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
Collection suggestion: The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg
Collection suggestions: Selected Stories, After Rain
Collection suggestions: Paris Stories, The Cost of Living
9) Aimee Bender
Collection suggestion: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
10) Mary Gaitskill
Collection suggestions: Don't Cry, Bad Behavior
11) Jhumpa Lahiri
Collection suggestions: The Interpreter of Maladies
12) Nam Le
Collection Suggestion: The Boat
Collection suggestion: The Thing Around Your Neck
14) Junot Diaz
Collection suggestion: Drown
Collection suggestion: Everything That Rises Must Converge Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.