known for his short
stories, i.e. The Legend
of Sleepy Hollow and
Rip Van Winkle.
There are many compilations of shorts out there. There are many famous writers known for their shorts--Edgar Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc.
There are many reasons to read short stories. One: they're short, and time seems to be important these days. Two: they are condensed and, therefore, the reader reaches the action/turning point more quickly. Three: as a writer, it's a way to get many ideas out there and show your versatility. Foru: also as a writer, it is a way to get something published in a mass media circuit, i.e. magazines.
But do they sell? I looked for statistics but couldn't find them. In my opinion, based on the fact that I never buy them and I buy a lot of books, I would guess short stories sell less often in book form than do other types of writing.
And yet, there is so much potential in a short story. Recently, I've been reading an anthology of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holme stories. Yes, stories. They all fit in two volumes--paperback-size--so they can't be too long. And each night I have managed to read one of the longer ones, or two of the Adventures. This is a satisfying feeling! Not only was I pleased that these great detective stories held up against time, but I was so pleased with myself for reaching a definitive in any book: the End.
What prompted this discussion of the short story? A review by Rose City Reader of the short story compilation Saving Stanley by Scott Nadelson. I won't rewriter her review here (for that you must click the link), but I will repeat that "collection of eight interrelated stories about Daniel Brickman and his family. The stories move back and forth in time and focus on different family members, eventually piecing together a family history..." How interesting is that?! A group of short stories that, together, make up a whole. A puzzle of writing.
What about you? Do you read short stories? Do you buy books that are compilations of shorts? Do you subscribe to literary magazines that contain short stories? If you're a writer, would you rather write a bunch of shorts, or one successful full-lenth work?