I love writing short stories.
It is, I freely admit, a foolish vice. As a career strategy, it is just barely better than being a poet. (My apologies to the poets out there, but you know what I’m talking about.)
There’s no money in writing short stories. If you want to make a living, better write a novel or two — or better yet, a series.
Short stories get no respect. Novels are reviewed; short stories, not so much.
But short stories are wonderful to read. If you have fifteen minutes to spare, you can dive into another world, live another life, and emerge in time to get back to your real life.
They are also wonderful to write. As a writer, I can know and love and carefully examine every word and nuance of the story. I can keep it all in mind at once — no sprawling plot lines and extra bits that I can never quite capture. I can take risks and experiment — why not try something daring?
In a way I think short stories are like the first little mammals in the days of the dinosaurs. They’re hot-blooded little beasts, packing a lot of energy into a very small space. But they are always looking nervously over their furry shoulders at the great hulking monstrous novels that could accidentally squash them underfoot.
Until recently, the lifespan of a short story has generally been wretchedly short. Most of the stories reprinted here first appeared in magazines, enjoying a brief moment of glory when the magazine came out, then vanishing with publication of the next issue. Some have been reprinted here and there; some have been translated into other languages. The publishers of print books don’t much care for short story collections — they’d rather have a novel. So generally, short stories are the mayflies of the literary world — appearing briefly only to vanish again, ephemeral, a flash of light in the darkness.
With ebooks, short stories can live on as electronic missives, which seems to suit their nature — ephemeral, experimental, a flash of light in the darkness. Leave the bookshelves to the great lumbering novels. Short stories, moving quickly, will occupy the new spaces, peering from the underbrush at the reptilian novels, and plotting world domination that lies in their future.
Table of Contents
Section 1: Looking for trouble — and finding it
A Flock of Lawn Flamingos
One Odd Shoe
On the Dark Side of the Station Where the Train Never Stops
Section 2: Love and Sex
Love and Sex among the Invertebrates
Eradication of Romantic Love
Section 3: Wolves and Women
Points of Departure
South of Oregon City
Ménage and Menagerie
Section 4: Stories and storytellers
The True Story
Section 5: Out of this world
A Cartographic Analysis of the Dream State
Exploding, Like Fireworks
Recycling Strategies for the Inner City
Section 6: Changes of one kind or another
Games of Deception
Iris Vs the Black Knight
Going Through Changes