Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beauty of Brevity

I am back from vacation (we have a cabin in the Methow Valley—a beautiful spot).

For some reason, I have been thinking of Hemingway today and how brevity can carry a certain beauty that long winded prose cannot.

I wish that publishers had the luxury of doing more short stories, but we really don’t for economic reasons.  If readers were willing to buy more of them, realizing that a well crafted short story can make you think more than a novel, then publishers would publish more.

Hemingway led me to the apocryphal story that he once won a bet writing a short story in six words: “For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Used.”

He probably didn’t, but I like to think he did. It was probably written by deGroot for his play “Papa,” which was about Hemingway in Cuba.

Wired had a contest, some years ago for other authors to write a six word story. My favorite is Margaret Atwood’s: “Long for him. Got him. Shit.”

Still, the Hemingway story wins by managing to have such imagining of what the story was. It poses the question that the reader wants to know the details. It feels sad.

Can you imagine a book of short stories like that? One story per page?

Now imagine the outrage of the buying public, even for 99 cents on an eBook. Just like our food servings, we want LARGE. Supersize it! Give me a fantasy book that is 400,000 words!

For 99 cents!





No. I prefer well crafted to volume. Sure we all love to stuff ourselves sometimes, but lets sometimes consume a little bit less of something that is special.


- Harry Harrison

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