Saturday, October 23, 2010
The Light and Dark of Scenery and Fiction
Everything is subtle as we dip into late October. The sun does not rise with a shout but with a sigh.
Country scenery is far from monochromatic, but the quilt is quieter, somewhat faded.
I was thinking this morning about fiction and about a difference I notice between novels and short stories in the last decade--besides length, I mean. Short stories, in general, tend to be darker, bleaker, grimmer, while novels, very serious and even tragic ones, even by authors who also write short fiction, don't often maintain the dark tone throughout that is found in so many recent short story collections. Writers of short stories are frustrated because publishers and the marketplace favor novels over shorter fiction, and many explanations have been put forth, but I can't help wondering if the view of life presented, in general, in so many short stories doesn't contribute to the difficulty they have finding buyers.
Which road to take? Bravely into the dark? Lightly into the light? Down through the shadowy valley, then up toward the light? Straight or twisting and turning? Which road to take? Always a question, in any life, in any endeavor. What does it mean to choose one road rather than another?