One-Minute Book Reviews

August 1, 2007

What’s the Difference Between a Novel and a Short Story? Quote of the Day (Eudora Welty)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:19 am
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May Sarton described one difference between a novel or short story and poetry in the quote of the day on July 10 www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/07/10/. What’s the difference between a novel and a short story? Here’s an answer from Eudora Welty:

“I like the fiction writer’s feeling of being able to confront an experience and resolve it as art, however imperfectly and briefly – to give it a form and try to embody it – to hold it and express it in a story’s terms. You have more chance to try it in a novel. A short story is confined to one mood, to which everything in the story pertains. Characters, setting, time, events, are all subject to the mood. And you can try more ephemeral, more fleeting things in a story – you can work more by suggestion – than in a novel. Less is resolved, more is suggested, perhaps.”

Eudora Welty in an interview with Linda Kuehl, Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews (Penguin, 1989), edited by George Plimpton. Introduction by Margaret Atwood. Reprinted from Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews: Fourth Series and issue No. 55 of the Paris Review, Fall 1972. To read the full interview click on www.parisreview.com and search for “Eudora Welty.”

Comment by Janice Harayda:

Welty made this comment in an interview conducted in 1972. Does her comment still apply today?

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

July 10, 2007

What’s the Difference Between Fiction and Poetry? Quote of the Day

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:26 am
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Many people have tried to define how a novel or short story differs from a poem. Here’s an answer from May Sarton, who wrote fiction, nonfiction and poetry. She was commenting on Theodore Roethke’s line, “I learn by going where I have to go.”

“In the novel or short story you get the journey. In a poem you get the arrival.”

May Sarton in an interview with Karen Saum that appears in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews: Seventh Series (Viking, 1986). Edited by George Plimpton. Introduction by John Updike.

Comment by Janice Harayda:
You can argue with Sarton’s comment (as she implicitly acknowledges when she goes on to say in the interview that, with free verse, you can “get the journey”). But I like her definition partly because it gets away from the issue of length. This is important because many contemporary short stories are so short that they have fewer words than some epic or narrative poems.

How would you define the difference between fiction and poetry?

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

June 28, 2007

Why Do People Like Novels Better Than Short Stories? Quote of the Day #31

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:04 am
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You might think that the short story would be making a spectacular comeback about now. Pop-cultural analysts keep telling us – rightly or wrongly – that attention spans are getting shorter. And digital technologies like e-mail and text messaging have accustomed us to briefer forms of self-expression.

Yet short stories seem to have slumped in popularity since the deaths of masters like John Cheever and Raymond Carver in the 1980s, and fewer traditional magazines than ever are publishing them. People may talk about how little time they have for reading. But at the bookstore or library, they’ll pick up a novel instead of a collection of stories. Why? Here’s one of the simplest explanations I’ve read for why people prefer longer books:

“The natural inclination to put off the endings of good things makes them suspicious of a form that insists on wrapping things up rather quickly.”

Marisa Silver in “It’s All Relative,” a review of Helen Simpson’s In the Driver’s Seat: Stories, in the Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2007, a collection reviewed on this site on June 21, 2007 http://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/06/21/.

Comment by Janice Harayda:
Critics and scholars have offered many other explanations for why novels outsell short stories. If you prefer longer books, why do you like them?

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

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