Postmodern Short Stories in America?

Hmm Postmodern Short Stories in America? That’s a good title, right?

I always loved short stories of the USA, and in my life I read a lot of these – I remember Faulkner, Salinger, Carver, but also Fitzgerald, William Goyen, Flannery O’Connor, Edith Wharton. I bought and didn’t read K. A. Porter, and in English – which is difficult for me – W. Cather, or more Raymond Carver…

Finishing the David Lodge autobiography, I found these three names : Brautigan, Barthelme and Coover, as postmodernists. Puzzled, because I know Brautigan a bit, I googled and found this subject : Postmodern Short Stories in America.

So, I did a little search and found this (I bolded the bold) : “The history of the short story in mid-twentieth century America continues to be marked by a tension between the twin fictional poles of realism and romance, the story of accurate ‘reportage’ and the story of fantasy and imagination.”

Thus :

“The short story also encourages a reflexive self-consciousness about literary form, a propensity to build into the story a commentary on itself – and a mingling of genres and registers.”

THIS is interesting, right?

Because, what is “postmodernism”, after all, now we’re… after that?

Wikipedia is a messy mess, look what I’ve found :

Skepticism, irony, or rejection of the grand narratives and ideologies of modernism, self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence.

Let’s dig :

  • John Barth is said parodic, “The process of making a novel is the content, more or less.”
  • Donald Barthelme, “…experimental, he avoids traditional plot structures, relying instead on a steady accumulation of seemingly unrelated detail. Subverting the reader’s expectations.”
  • Robert Coover, magic realism, self-referentiality.
  • William H. Gass, the stylist : “His prose has been described as flashy, difficult, edgy, masterful, inventive, and musical.”

 

See why I’m intrigued?

Do you know some of them?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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…and the “horror short stories” lost writer.

Yesterday in the bookstore I met an author, an unknown man who wrote and self-published a little book of “horror short stories”.

He asked for a book signing day.

I answered that we only do that, since a few years, for really published bigger authors, and also that he shouldn’t regret it : nobody probably would have come for him to our big store to have their book signed…

I know : not cool.

As he was talkative I suggested he asked to do this in smaller human-size bookstores, but also said that he’d probably see no line in front of the table.

We then talked about the writer’s disillusion of Level 2. The first is when he desperately want to be published. The other one is when he IS published, but nobody cares about his book.

We talked : sending his book to influencers & editors, about blogging, writing fan-fictions to get a name. We also talked about losing time – as he was – trying being a press secretary, an attaché.

I have no advice to tell to writers, but this man was a bit lost, obviously. Thus I asked him :

– What do you like?
– Writing.
– What don’t you write, then?

 

Is it the good path to get published with no audience, when you write horror short stories? What for? Hoping for money? Really?

Isn’t self editing a no-man’s land between putting the text online and having your book on tables in every store?

(Well, there’s this little pride when your brother-in-law buys you one to please you…)

Or is it better to just write, develop a talent and possibilities, find your music and determine something important : are you good, or not? Do you want to sell, or do you want to be read?

What happens when you work out of your skills, just besides, where you feel lost, untalented, and bored? Do you have to recenter, or do you learn things while you do it – thinking about the time you’ll be back to what you love and where you’re good?

 

Have a nice day!

 

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The sadness of Chekhovian heroins is ours

Anton Chekhov wrote a few plays, and hundreds of short stories.

When you read him, the “archetype” of the Chekhovian Heroin begins to appear in your head.

She’s a woman. She’s sensitive. She dreams of another life. She’s a bit sad.

Here are three examples.

A stormy day, a man, with drops of water in his beard, says a declaration of love to a young woman. She ignores him. Years later, they both live alone. They are still in contact. She cries on her lost life, the time flowing, the too lates. (A Lady’s Story)

A butterfly-minded spouse is unable to see the value and the kindness of her husband, and realizes it too late. (The Grasshopper)

A young woman takes on the ideas and habits of every man she loves. People laugh at her, and at the end she is lost and alone. (The Darling)

There’s a lot to learn by reading Chekhov : We all do what we can. We fail because we’re afraid, or we think we know. Life is short and we should dare more. And we all are a little stupid, and ridiculous…

Most of his short stories are free on the web. You’ll also find many “Selected Short Stories” in book. I assure you : it’s better than many Self-Help books!

Thanks for reading!

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Instagram : bodylanguage

 

 

 

What about the “Ahh screw it!” moment?

In French, we say “Merde !” in three ways (probably more, but, well…).

  • Like you, when a sudden bad thing happen : “Sh*t!”.
  • But also, when we say “Oh et puis merde !”, “Oh and then sh*t!”, it means “F*ck it!” or “Screw it!”.
  • “Break a leg!”.

This is high level linguistics and translation skills, right?

“Screw it!”, in English, seems to contain a negative quality : “I don’t care, do whatever you want, I don’t give it a worry”. In French it’s the same, we would say “Oh et puis merde” after someone refuses our help for too long. “Naaaah forget it!”.

But ALSO it’s a way to smile and stand up. Acceptance. Stopping resistance (which was perhaps idiot). “Oh et puis merde” is a good thing, a way to let something pass, to let go, to accept an evidence, to stop being so cautious, too, it’s an opening, maybe risky, but right. It contains : “I stand up and I go for it. After all, it’s probably the choice to make”. And in English? Tell me…

There’s a pack of questions here. What happened? What triggered the button? What was the “waiting” made of? What kind of movement is initiated by the moment? Etc.

This moment is great. THIS second when you give up to your own rules and decisions and you jump into life, instead. This only moment could be the subject of a whole pack of short stories, right?

Oh et puis merde ! Let’s do it !

Thanks for reading!

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