>LitMag Wave: Short Story, No. 6

>It’s a shame about Short Story. In its short life—issue Number 6, Spring 2009, was its last—it published some very good stories and interviews with intriguing writers. In the last issue, for example, the editor’s interview with Elise Blackwell includes some useful insights into process:

“For me, a book often starts with a single image or idea or character. I let it marinate for a while, often a very long time. Once you start thinking about that, you notice things in the world that are related. You read a news story. You think of the character and you meet someone who shares a trait. This part of the process often takes a year or so, and I often do that while I’m working on another book.”

She also says, “A little research goes a long way,” which is a valuable lesson

I also enjoyed all of the stories in this issue. They all are a little quirky without being experimental, and they all leave a great deal of the story OUT, which is interesting. I think in the interest of thoroughness, short story writers (I’m thinking of myself here) sometimes include too much. These stories show that a writer doesn’t need to fill in all the holes.

In “At the DMV” by Lou Mathews, for example, we see Cyril Cleary at the DMV trying to get the name changed on his Drivers License. We know the problem with his name has to do with his departure from a religious order, but we don’t know much more, because it doesn’t seem terribly relevant to what the author is doing. Similarly, in “Woman with Mr. McElroy” by Joshua White, the reader wants to know more about the blind Mr. McElroy, but the truth is that we know just enough. If the author had included more details about the man’s childhood and his rivalry with his brother I would happily have read it, but it simply isn’t needed here. “Allan Mabry” by Michael Henson is similar. The title character (although in the story his name is spelled with only one ‘l’ so I have to think there’s a mistake in the title and table of contents) has hired a single mother and is repaid for his generosity by the son’s petty thievery. “Release Date” by James Barilla also leaves lots of questions unanswered. It tells of Gordon, found on the beach like any of the stray animals Mrs. Randall takes in, and like them he can’t tell her what his history is. And, finally, there’s “1947” by Simone Martel, a story that hints at a past that is never revealed.

Just when I’ve figured out what an editor likes in a story, it ceases publication!

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