shining the spotlight on short story collections
When you’ve won yourself a prize like the Booker Prize, as Anne Enright (whose first published book was a short story collection) did with her novel, The Gathering, then you’re “allowed” to do something as commercially dubious as publish another short story collection. And, when you’re “Booker Prize winner Anne Enright” your collection gets noticed, and you appear on Simon Mayo’s Bcc Five Live Book Panel and talk about your collection.
Listening to Anne talking about Taking Pictures was a treat, how she put them together, how long it took to write them. One of Simon Mayo’s regular reviewers said
It’s strange that people find short stories a turn-off a lot of the time because they’re like pop songs or poems, there are plenty of equivalents where you can look at something again and again – you’ll find something new in a song, or new in a poem every time you look at it. the joy of these is not having to read them in order. You can dip backwards and forwards. Sometimes you feel the weight on your right hand of how much of the book there is to go. You can skip to the last one and read that and then skip back. It’s like a big box of chocolates, and it is just so rewarding.
When asked the by now expected question about short story collections not selling, Anne Enright said:
Everybody says they can’t sell, publishers suck their teeth and say “pay us and maybe”….I like the fact that the short story is a very modest form. It suits the way people’s lives are. I am fed up of people “larging” it in books. Small it!
Maybe that should be adopted as a slogan: Small It! Watch this space.
Full podcast available here.