Wednesday, March 06, 2024

There's Still Good Stuff On The Radio

Keeping it Brief: A Celebration of Short Stories on Connecticut Public Radio's Colin McEnroe Show aired yesterday afternoon but is available on-line now. I loved that it was broken into individual interviews instead of an hour-long panel or free-for-all discussion. I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't have a 60-minute attention span.

Some high points for Gail:

With Rebecca Makkai, Colin (here in Connecticut he's known as Colin) talked about why people may choose not to read short stories and why they should. Here are a couple of my own thoughts on why short stories may not go over with some readers.

  • It takes as much energy for readers to invest in characters and acclimate to a world for a short story as it does for a book. And then the short story is over. You get more for your effort if you're reading a book. To be truthful, I got this theory from my cousin.
  • Epiphanies--characters experiencing some kind of realization that changes them somehow--are a big deal in short stories. This particular reader finds that epiphanies are often so interior to the character that I don't understand them, which undermines my enjoyment of the story. 

With Amy Bloom the talk veered more to technique. She said how a short story begins is important. You only have about two paragraphs to hook the reader. 1. This seems hugely helpful. 2. I should have kown this.

The last section of the program was a discussion of a New Yorker short story, How I Became A Vet by Rivka Galchen. This was fascinating for me, because, though I have had a digital subscription to The New Yorker since last year, I never read the short stories. I don't even read that much of the humor. I like wading through years of articles. To get the whole Keeping it Brief experience, I dropped everything this afternoon and read How I Became A Vet. It's an absolutely lovely story, though I found the ending a bit epiphany-ish and didn't understand it. I think it has broken me into reading New Yorker short stories, though.

So I had an excellent radio experience that was work-related enough that I don't feel very guilty about not really working.

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