We have been telling stories to each other from the time we formed our languages. Yet the short story emerged as a distinct literary genre only by the beginning to the mid-19th century for, after all, the short story follows that oral tradition of parables, folk tales, dark tales, fables, legends and myths. And the early greats, when the short story became an actual style of writing, were Chekhov, Hardy, Hawthorne, de Maupassant, Edgar Allen Poe. So when Canadian author, Alice Munro, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature as master of the contemporary short story, the cheers went up for women writers and Canadians ones as well, despite our principles that we do not have boundaries or fences. At least I stood up and cheered, for Canadian women writers have been exceptionally powerful and in the forefront of fiction writing in the last forty years or so and they include Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Carol Shields, Jane Urquhart and a score of other wonderful female talents. And this prize to Munro is exceptional, particularly because the short story has been overshadowed by the visual and sound medias of film, television, radio and now the internet, with all its forms of information and story telling.
Short stories were promoted in magazines, which were a popular venue of entertainment, in the early twentieth century with a large readership. And yet, the short story has constantly been swept under the rug as less important than a novel or a film, and the short story was singularly invisible after the 1960’s. Except those by popular writers who were considered of less value, despite their extremely large audience, for example, those by Stephen King, considered a major writer, but not really since he writes horror.
Will the complex and infinite internet aid the popularity of short stories? Perhaps, because it is possible to reach new readers in new ways. Is it also because the short story is the right fit for the mobile world, for the iphone, the ipad and the tablet, formats that that follow their owner from their doorstep to the plane to another country? Or is it because the story can be read in one sitting, conforming to the rapid pace between job and family, between facebook and email, between meetings across the oceans?
Enjoy our offerings for this, our literary issue, which include a hard-hitting emotional story by Maya Khankhoje, my 60’s type story that happened much later, a sensual and hypnotic exploration by Anushree Varma, an evocative moment with Jaspreet Singh, and poetry by Louise Carson, Paul Serralheiro and others, as well as book reviews and interviews.