My love affair with short stories

My love affair with short stories


 In today’s fast-paced world, the short story is ideal bedtime reading material. Representative image/Pixabay

If a novel is an elaborate meal of several courses, a short story is delectable street food— sharp, tangy, spicy and delicious. It may not be a full meal to satiate your hunger, but it certainly tingles your taste buds and leaves you asking for more. It’s a difference between a delicious meal in a five-star hotel and yummy pani poori or egg rolls eaten on the roadside. Each has its place and each is enjoyable in its own way.

My love affair with short stories began when I was in high school. We had a library period every week when we would have to sit in the library and read for forty minutes. Forty minutes is hardly enough time to read a novel, so I would reach for a book of short stories. There were huge anthologies of stories, some of them entitled— ‘Stories for Girls,’ ‘Stories for Boys’ and many more. I never understood why this distinction between boys and girls was made. All the stories in all the books were good and I enjoyed all of them immensely.

My method for enjoying a book of short stories is to first scan the table of contents and first pick the shortest stories. After they are read, I turn to the slightly longer ones. In a short story, there is no room for character development of the protagonist or any long conversation between the characters. There aren’t lengthy descriptions and or preludes. Everything is limited to the storyline. The reader’s attention has to be grabbed and held by the author so that his story rivets the reader for a few short pages in which the story unfolds. The story could be a romance, a thriller, crime fiction or even a children’s tale, every kind of story lends itself to this genre.

Over the years, I have amassed many volumes of short story collections. (Forty-eight as of now) Some of the books have the same stories but it doesn’t matter to me. I have a bad memory so I don’t mind reading the same story multiple times. In a book exhibition, I was amazed to find short stories written by authors famous for writing huge tomes like Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy. Short stories with a twist at the end are the best kind. O Henry was famous for such stories. The Gift of the Magi and After Twenty Years come to mind immediately when you think of twist endings. Novelists like Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse have also written several gems in this genre. In today’s fast-paced world, the short story is ideal bedtime reading material.

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