How to get free short stories and are they any good? Alice Munro – Too much happiness

Short stories have frequently had a bad press for being things written by authors who are just too lazy to write a full novel but is this really the case?  Alice Munro, even has a character in her short story Fiction argue;

“A collection of short stories, not a novel.  This in itself is a disappointment.  It seems to diminish the book´s authority, making the author seem like somebody who is just hanging on to the gates of Literature rather than safely settled inside”.

This made me laugh  because Alice Munro is a much-lauded writer of short fiction and she has been called the new Chekov and the Queen of the short story and she won the Booker prize in 2009

Personally I have not really been a massive short story fan, look at my book cases and you will find very few, however this year I have had a bit of an epiphany largely due to my ipod and the great short story podcasts you can download on the New Yorker and Guardian pages.

Earlier this year I commented on the fantastic podcast of the short story The Dolls House by Katherine Mansfield and this started my mission to download lots of short stories and to listen to as many as possible on my run.  I have listened to short stories by Junot Diaz, Raymond Carver, Angela Carter, Roddy Doyle and Kazuo Ishiguro, all read by well-known writers. Recently I heard an enjoyable Alice Monro short story Axis and found this book hanging around at work so decided to read it as she won the booker in 2009 (that seemed to pass me by somehow)  so I decided to read this.

The title refers to the words of the 19th century mathematician, Sophie Kovalevsky, but it is a bit of a misnomer, there is not too much happiness in this book in fact  a colleague described it as ” a bit depressing”.  I think this book is best enjoyed reading a short story once a week rather than bombarding yourself in one go and feeling a bit overwhelmed.  The stories don’t have the happiest of themes, a woman whose children have been murdered, another one dying of cancer, child killers, etc, etc., however they are largely interesting and a good read.  There are interesting observations about reading which struck a chord, for example in the story  Free  Radicals; “She hated to hear the word “escape” used about fiction.  She might have argued, not just playfully that it was real life that was the escape”.  These stories certainly make you think and the endings are often left open enough to leave you puzzling over how to interpret them.





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4 responses to “How to get free short stories and are they any good? Alice Munro – Too much happiness

  1. A story is a story is a story. As a mediator on Softeampact and a kindle-Indie author, I have been asked more than once if a member’s story was long enough, as she had heard of “word counts” typifying books as short stories, novelettes, novellas and novels. My comment was that the word count doesn’t matter, but the content. A story ends when it’s finished, padding doesn’t help either. Write your story and have done with it.
    By the way, I thought audio books were invented solely for the blind or people with reading difficulties. For me an audio book cannot be read as a normal book,, as one has to rely on the inflection of the reader’s voice instead of one’s inner voice to appreciate the quality of writing – the punctuation for example. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, so you can’t judge an audio book by its orator.
    T. J. Edison – Author name.

    • Yes, I am definitely coming round to your way of thinking on the short story front, however with regards to an audio book I am a completely new devotee. They are so great for when you are driving or on a run. I will admit however that I did struggle with the readers of Hard Times and The Strangers Child that I listened to recently.

  2. Alistair

    Nice one Kerry, just subscribed to the New Yorker and Guardian so looking – or should that be “listening” – forward to a few podcasts over the summer. I listen to the “A Good Read” podcast fairly routinely and one week the contributors were waxing lyrically about “For Esme, With Love and Squalor” a book of short stories by J.D.Salinger. Got it on Amazon but have not been as bowled over as I had hoped – still haven’t finished the book after six months or more and it’s tiny! Hopefully will finish it during the summer. Have you read it and what do you think? If you haven’t read it… why not? Nice looking blog by the way.

    • Sorry for late reply. No I have never read the JD Salinger stories, let me know if you manage to finish it! I much prefer the New Yorker and Radio 4 book podcasts to the Guardian ones acutally.

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