December 10th, 2012

The Legal Short Story

While I’ve been busy not posting on the blog, I’ve done any number of other things, mainly uninteresting and related to the course I finished taking last week (gag! death! disaster! doom!) The one cool thing was two Saturdays ago we hosted a party to celebrate a) having such nice friends and b) the making of How to Keep Your Day Job. We screened the film for said friends, some of whom had been so excited about it for so long it seemed no longer fair to keep it from them.

As far as I could tell, everyone loved the film–it was really satisfying to sit and watch everyone laugh, wince, and nod at the protagonist’s tribulations. At the end, I got many compliments, most of which were waived because I had nothing to do with the film other than the baseline story and a lot of enthusiasm. But it was still great to hear, and I’m sure the filmmakers, home with colds, felt the love even from afar.

One especially interesting compliment came from a partygoer I know less well, who surprised me by announcing that she loves short stories always, even when she’s not at a party hosted by one of their practitioners. I mentioned my pleasure and surprise at this, as it’s not the general attitude towards short fiction. She said perhaps it was because she’s a lawyer–she likes details only if they exist for a reason, and everything extraneous to be thrown out.

I thought this was such a great way of expressing the lure of the story–that leanness, efficiency. Some short-story proponents come dangerously close to anti-novelism with similar discussions, and that’s not my aim. Novels do something our friends in science fiction (hi, Scott!) call “world-building.” Novels create a whole life for their characters–clothes and rooms and jobs and friends (ok, a lot of characters in novels don’t have friends–separate post) and the ticking sound the car makes and love of romantic poetry. You are far more likely to know which way a character votes and whether s/he believes in God in a novel than in a short story. Which is awesome in the way that that’s awesome; and short stories are awesome in a different way.

I was just pleased to hear it described so well, is all I’m trying to say here.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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