'I’m a life long short story fan – since Raymond Carver and early Ian McEwan. As I’ve grown older I count short story writers as some of my favourite writers and they are a disparate bunch – Lorrie More, Stefan Zweig, Michele Roberts. The reason why I like short stories is this: Good – even great – novels can still be ‘flabby’. A good short story can never be flabby. It’s a perfectly condensed piece of prose – brilliantly executed but often retaining more than a hint of mystery about it. A short story can be read in an hour but it will stay with you for the rest of the day.
If I was only allowed to recommend one set of short stories I would choose The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (Virago Modern Classics). I recently listened to Joyce Carol Oates reading Welty’s short story, ‘Where is the voice coming from?’ on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. The reading of this story reminded me how captivating a pure, short dose of prose can be. It’s the monologue of a white supremacist in America’s deep South at the time of the Civil Rights Movement – very creepy, very disturbing and very atmospheric with a lyricism to it that almost defies its terrible subject matter. If it had been any longer in length, the story would have been killed.
Zoe Hood, Publicist, Virago
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