Confession of a reading writer: it takes me forever to read a collection of short stories…
Posted by Tao23
…because the nature of short stories, for me, demands slow consumption (I wonder if that’s why I almost always write them slow, too. Putting them down halfway through for days or even longer before finishing them. Hmmmm).
I don’t mean short stories are automagically HALLELUJAH THE CLOUDS PART AND A RAY OF EPIPHANY TRANSFIXES MY SQUIRMING LITTLE BRAIN when I read them.
I mean, if they are decently written and the story is my cup of tea (I have diverse tastes in tea; I’m not very picky) and the story has something to say about something rather than just being a sequence of stuff happening just to have stuff happening — then it takes me forever to read a collection or anthology or ‘zine or whatever grouping they’re in.
It takes all that time because when I finish a short story, I have to put the book down and let the thoughts and feelings it inspires rattle around in my subconscious for a while. Sometimes I can read two in a row before I have to stop.
Otherwise the feelings and thoughts get all muddy, and I start feeling all bloated and sickly, kind of like if you sit down for dessert and cram a quarter of a double chocolate cream cake AND a big plate of tiramisu AND a gigantic plate of flan down your gullet all in the space of fifteen minutes.
I don’t know about you, but if I do that I end up all pukey and unhappy and regretful. I wish I’d just had one dessert and saved the others for later.
That’s how I read short stories, to avoid that pukey regret and savor the deliciousness. And to drag the metaphor out a little farther, if the dessert is a bunch of plain ol’ slabs of cheapo junkfood factory cake (uninspired little ‘look a thing is happening who cares’ stories), I could pig out and eat ten or something. Because who cares, it’s just meh. It’s not like you’re going to miss anything if you cram them down your throat with the heel of your hand one after another after another after another after another without really tasting them.
But why would I want to? Where the good (and great) stories have me stopping after one or two so I can digest and savor the memory, the meh ones have me stopping after one or two because WHO CARES OH MY GOD I’M BORED.
I hear there are people who can read through a whole collection, even a long one filled with STELLAR stories, in one sitting. Just chow down a dozen profound and excellent short stories with tons to say one after another.
Y’all are weird. But, hey. It takes all kinds.
You weirdos. Seriously, you weird me out. Have I mentioned I find it weird?