I’ve tried heaps of times (ok, twice) to get into short stories and I just can’t do it. It’s taken me years to even try because I have this ingrained negative feeling towards them. I just don’t think a couple of thousand words is enough for me to fully engage with a story, and I worry that I’ll just be getting to know the characters when the story ends and that’s the last I’ll ever hear from them. It often takes me a few meetings in real life to really cement someone’s character in my brain, so what chance is there that a few pages will be enough to create a lasting impression?
I know that a great short story should have enough in it that I don’t feel ripped off when it ends, but the collections I’ve read recently have left me cold. First, I tried Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of the Maladies, and while it inspired me enough to buy The Lowland, I can’t actually remember a single thing about a single one of the stories – not even a character’s name. This is bad even for my level of book amnesia. Next, at the recommendation of many a podcast and review from people I trust(ed), I tried George Saunders’s Tenth of December. Well, for a collection that has been called unsettling, insightful and hilarious, I struggled to find myself within a country mile of any of these emotions.
So, the question is, should I struggle on? I recently bought Alice Munro’s Dear Life, and while part of me is super excited to read it, a much larger part is terrified in case I don’t like these either. Not liking Alice Munro feels like something I would have to lie about, and I’m already very busy pretending to like Haruki Murakami.
Categories: Book life