I was interviewed by one of the local newspapers the other day. It was on the phone, though, so apparently when I was using the word “communal” and “communality” the reporter was hearing “commonality” which is fine, because there is that shared-ness in the word “commonality” that works just fine for the meaning I was trying to get at, too.
I like the picture of me and my books. The photographer was an older fellow who’s been a photographer on staff for decades, he said, and hadn’t been on my street in years. “I love these old North Side homes,” he told me, and promptly went to my dining room where he found the best lighting like a dog sniffing out a foxhole.
Less than a week to go. Fingernail-biting begins.
Steven Millhauser, both novelist and short story writer extraordinaire, explains the differences between the novel and the short story, and what they really want to do for and to us:
The short story — how modest in bearing! How unassuming in manner! It sits there quietly, eyes lowered, almost as if trying not to be noticed. And if it should somehow attract your attention, it says quickly, in a brave little self-deprecating voice alive to all the possibilities of disappointment: “I’m not a novel, you know. Not even a short one. If that’s what you’re looking for, you don’t want me.” Rarely has one form so dominated another. And we understand, we nod our heads knowingly: here in America, size is power. The novel is the Wal-Mart, the Incredible Hulk, the jumbo jet of literature. The novel is insatiable — it wants to devour the world. What’s left for the poor short story to do? It can cultivate its garden, practice meditation, water the geraniums in the window box. It can take a course in creative nonfiction. It can do whatever it likes, so long as it doesn’t forget its place — so long as it keeps quiet and stays out of the way. “Hoo ha!” cries the novel. “Here ah come!” The short story is always ducking for cover. The novel buys up the land, cuts down the trees, puts up the condos. The short story scampers across a lawn, squeezes under a fence.
Read the entire essay at the NYT by clicking here.