Christian McPherson's blog
Please tell us about your interest in the short story by
(a) telling us a bit about your recent collection (e.g., how did it come about? does it have a recurring theme? do you have a particular story or passage that's a favorite?)
My first published book was my collection of short stories called Six Ways to Sunday (Nightwood, 2007). I spent about six or seven years writing those stories.
I worked on them because, quite frankly, I wasn’t ready to take on a novel. A novel seemed far too overwhelming a task at the time. So in one sense, my short stories are products of fear and insecurity.
I wrote about the characters of my misspent youth. The characters are drunks, drug addicts, mental patients, pool sharks, and strippers.
I’m working on a new collection of stories, with some of the same characters as the first book.
After having completed two novels, I’m going back to the short story, but this time with different motivation; not self castrating fear.
(b) recommending a short story or collection by someone else that you admire (and why?)
The Pugilist at Rest by the American writer Thom Jones. When I read this collection of short stories it made me want to become a writer.
As urban legend has it, Jones was working as a janitor when his title story was picked off the slush pile at The New Yorker.
Not only is his story inspirational, his writing is fantastic. I keep buying this collection and giving it away. If you haven’t read it, run out and buy a copy right now.
Don’t sit there reading, get going.
(c) reflecting on the 21st century and the short story: Are they a good match (and why)?
Apparently people have shorter attention spans. What was the question? I jest.
The short story has been around since people have been writing, however I think it was made popular in the later part of the 20th century by American magazines such as The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, etc.
Often a short story is a piece of candy from somebody who normally makes giant wedding cakes; it’s a very special treat.
As digital media becomes more prolific, short stories are becoming even shorter. Is it a good thing? I can’t say.
I think people want to read what can get loaded on a webpage and don’t want to spend too much time scrolling. So, one might argue that there is a new size limitation of the art form. I’m sure the response will be grand. I can’t wait to see what people come up with.