Form – Short Stories

I do not want to touch too much on this literary form as we have a site at BellaOnline specifically focused for short stories. But being the literary fiction site it would be remiss of me not to mention short stories as an extremely relevant and vital literary fiction form. This is not to say that all short stories are literary fiction because short stories carry their own genres like books do.

The most basic determinant of a short story is word count. To fall under the title of short story they must range in length from 1000 to 15,000 words. The decision of whether a short story is literary fiction or not is pretty much the same as for books; in literary fiction the “language is heavier, the imagery lush, the characters detailed and story line thought provoking.” Like literary fiction books, literary short fiction has notable awards to distinguish it. “Literary fiction is not about chick lit, mystery, science fiction or horror…If it doesn’t fit into a genre of its own then you’ve probably found yourself some literary fiction.”

I have to admit other than the occasional literary magazine containing short stories or the occasional collection of reviews a publisher may send I spend little to no time on short stories. I think this is probably generally reflective of the majority of the population. They just are not publicized as much. This is not to say there isn’t talent there. Many short story writers go on to write longer length pieces, often spurred by their initial short stories. Imagine what Oprah could do for the short story form if she highlighted an author’s collection.

Keep an eye out for:

Five Classic Short Stories

  • A Rose for Emily (William Faulkner)
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The Story of an Hour (Kate Chopin)
  • Twice Told Tales (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • Melville’s The Piazza Tales (Herman Melville)

Five Modern Short Stories

  • Runaway (Alice Munroe)
  • Licks of Love (John Updike)
  • In the Garden of North American Martyrs (Tobias Wolff)
  • Changing Planes (Ursula Le Guin)
  • Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)

Ten Literary Journals Featuring Short Stories

This article was posted 6/24/2009 at the Literary Fiction site at BellaOnline.

Seven New Lenses

Playing catch up on sharing my lens crafting: Raven Symone

* Raven Symone
* Cheness Lewis

* Mac and Cheese Updated


* The Awakening by Kate Chopin

* Plus Size Santa Suits

Thanks for popping by.

Revisiting Banned Books

The last week of September an awareness campaign is run by the American Library Association to enlighten readers about freedom of speech. During this week you are encouraged to read books that have been banned in previous years.

Here are ten previously banned (or challenged) books for you to revisit this September (in order of year published):

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain) – This well known literary classic was first published in 1884, eight years after its predecessor, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In this adventure Huck travels with an escaped slave named Jim. It’s been attacked for its “language” and “grammar” despite its realistic imagery of historical racial conflict and friendship beyond color.

The Awakening (Kate Chopin) – Can you imagine “vulgar language, sexual explicitness, or violent imagery that is gratuitously employed” in a novel first published in 1899? That’s what happens when a 28 year old mother of two decided not to conform to society’s (and her husband’s) expectations of a woman’s duties. It’s too bad that Chopin never got to enjoy the success of this literary work. This was her last novel and while today she is described as an “exquisite” writer, she had to virtually become a hermit in her time for the backlash it caused. She was clearly a woman and writer before her time.

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) – This book was published in 1951 and despite being constantly attacked for its profanity and sexuality it has managed to maintain a consistent best seller status and cult following. Salinger took a few days from a 16 year old’s life and made it interesting to adults and their children.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) – This racially charged novel was published in 1960. It’s narrated by the daughter of Atticus Fitch, a lawyer, who defends a black man charged for raping a young white child. Harper, who was born in Louisiana, has deep roots in the south which she brought to her writing. She won a Pulitzer Prize for this novel. It was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck in 1962. Celebrate both!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey) – This 1962 novel still stands strong after forty years. Even the movie (1975), starring Jack Nicholson, is still one of the best made films. Kesey brought love and compassion into an area of life that most of society had closed the door on, the mental ward. He gave faces, personalities, hopes, dreams, fears and voices to these characters. Despite being considered an “American classic,” this novel never won any awards.

Forever (Judy Blume) – It seems like you can’t grow up a teenager without having a healthy dose of Judy Blume mixed in. This is one of her more controversial novels because of its blatant teenage sexuality. It was published in 1975 and is still a popular and somewhat “romantic” read.

The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison) – This debut novel was first published in 1970. In it’s minute it is about a pubescent black girl’s desire to be pretty and those around her who refuse to let her believe it. Eleven year old Pecola dreams of having blue eyes. She’s learned that only beautiful people are treated well. And in her mind, to be beautiful she must have blue eyes. Oprah picked this book as part of her book club in 2000. Morrison has produced other racially charged and well received novels like Beloved which was made into a movie in 1998. Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 for her body of work.

The Giver (Lois Lowry) – Twelve year Jonas is being given a gift from the “Giver,” the knowledge of what life was like before their current utopia. He is to carry this knowledge in case it is ever needed in the future. Once received, he realizes that he can not go on living the way he had. This 1993 novel about a “dystopian” society won the Newberry Medal in 1994.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J. K. Rowling) – Imagine all the kids who wouldn’t be reading if J.K. hadn’t written and published this book (and subsequent ones) about a lovable young sorcerer and his friends. This book was published in 1997 (hard to believe isn’t it) and has remained on the best sellers list ever since.

Geography Club (Brent Hartinger) – Nothing has been more controversial than sexuality; especially if goes against perceived societal norms. This young reader about gay teens was published in 2004 and followed a young boy’s journey to prove to himself he wasn’t alone. It’s hard to believe something that was published so recently would be challenged.

15 Women Authors Who Have Improved Fiction

Have you been making use of your library card? Here is a small selection of notable women writers who have improved fiction. If you haven’t already read some of their work you should make it a point to add them to your reading list before the year is finished. You’ll be glad you did. This listing is in alphabetical order:

Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) is best known for her novel Little Women which is part of a series dealing with the March Sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Later novels in the series include: Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys. She published over twenty novels, most of which we never hear about.

Jane Austen (1775 -1817), unlike Alcott, is well known for all six of her novels, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey. But it’s Pride and Prejudice that has had the most impact. Where would we all be without Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy?

Charlotte Bronte (1816 -1855) is best known for her novel Jane Eyre. Bronte made plain, strong, beautiful and loveable. She had two other published novels: Shirley, and Villette.

Emily Bronte (1818 -1848), who was not to be overshadowed by her older sister Charlotte, published only one novel Wuthering Heights but she is often referred to as the bigger talent. It would be wonderful to see the magnitude of her talent had she not died so young.

Pearl Buck (1892 -1973) was a prolific writer, producing over thirty novels, numerous works of non-fiction and short stories. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as the Pulitzer Prize for her 1931 novel, The Good Earth.

Kate Chopin (1851 – 1904) wrote two novels and a few short story collections. Her most notable work is her novella, The Awakening, about one woman’s search for her sexual identity. A powerhouse of contention for a book produced in 1899. The book has since been revived.

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) is known for her poetics than for novels but she has contributed significantly to the world of writing especially for women writers.

Harper Lee (1926 – ) is best known for her novel on racial inequality in the South, To Kill a Mockingbird. She won a Pulitzer Prize for this novel in 1961. She has been reclusive since the early success of this novel but it is said she is still writing although she hasn’t published another book. Imagine the gems that will be found in her writing room.

Doris Lessing (1919 – ) won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007 for her body of work which includes The Golden Notebook and The Good Terrorist.

Margaret Mitchell (1900 – 1949) is probably one of the most quoted authors. But does she really “give a damn”? Gone with the Wind is also one of the highest selling novels in America. She wrote one other novel, Lost Laysen, published posthumously.

Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963) was known mainly for her poetry (and her death) but she did write one novel, The Bell Jar which is said to be loosely reflective of her own mental illness.

Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851) made it cool for women to write about ethical science fiction when she created “The Modern Prometheus” or what we all know as Frankenstein.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1896) wrote over ten novels but is best known for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with its strong antislavery theme. She didn’t just write about it, she lived it. Her writing and actions was one of the first steps towards the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Alice Walker (1944 – ) created a stirring novel about an emotionally and physically abused black woman in the South. The Color Purple won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. She has a number of other novels and short story collections, many that deal with the same issues.

Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) probably influenced us more with her non-fiction than her fiction; like her most notable essay Room of One’s Own but she also wrote eight novels including Mrs. Dalloway.

There are many women who have had a positive and forward moving effect on literature but this space is small so I’ve limited it to fifteen. If you think that someone absolutely should be mentioned then please share them in the comments.

This piece was originally posted on 7/29/2008 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.