Saturday, March 19, 2011

Short stories

I have been reading and enjoying two Scribe published collections of short stories. One can't help but be struck not only by the skill, but also by the homogeneity of style.
And by the homogeneity of the author biographies,which can loosely be summed up as: has done/ is doing/ is teaching a creative writing course; has won/ been shortlisted for (insert distinguished literary prize here); has been published in Meanjin/Southerly/Overland etc.
They sent me to my old copy of "Australian Short Stories" which was a school text in the 1950s. Now, assuming that the contemporary authors are possibly within a 15 year age bracket, the ASS has a diversity in that age range from Marjorie Barnard to Douglas Stewart, each with their own distinctive, identifiable style. Of course, the age spread among the contemporary may be even wider.
I wonder why this has happened? Smaller, more proscriptive markets?

Visual artists seem to practise a wide range of styles. The public and the cognoscenti seem not only to accept this, but to expect it. The artist's style is recognisable: he is valued for it. Why the difference with words?

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