What I’m Reading: Short Stories That Make You Sad
November 12, 2012 Leave a comment
So I love short stories, I have always appreciated the way that the form allows for not only more delicate tales to be told but also more avant guard, interesting ones too. Some concepts don’t always work as novels because they want to treat a small element of detail with a great deal of care and attention and that is most certainly a theme with the last two collections I have been looking at.
I recently finished 11 Kind of Loneliness by Richard Yates, and it’s fantastic. It focuses on the detachment and isolation of those living in subrban, post-war america and how behind the façade things may not be so great. It may not be a wholly unique idea today, but Yates wrote these stories after observing the decade first hand and this collection is well over 30 years old now. Yates really cares for his characters and I think the way the way he can provoke so much empathy from the reader is by highlighting the tragedy of their situations and how he also pities them.
The stories even though focussed on the same subject, vary because of the deeply personal accounts of the stories told by the characters or the narrator who looks down upon them.
I’m now reading a collection by Raymond Carver who wrote the fantastic Will You Please Be Quiet Please (one of my favourite collections) called Cathedral. In the blurb Carver is quote as saying is was possible ‘to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language and endow these things – a chair, a window curtain, a fork a stone, a woman’s earring – with immense, even startling power’. So far, to me, he seems to be exercising this idea well, using minimalist writing to convey great importance in the details. This can give the stories a little bit of a stilted feel in my opinion but overall Carver’s storytelling here is just as good as it was in ‘Will You Please’.
I’ll post a retrospective review when I’m done.