When it comes to books I have no willpower whatsoever.
I’ve been in Brighton/London over the weekend and have managed to purchase/steal/acquire no less than 9 books in a 3 day period. I almost broke my arm trying to hoist my carry on into the luggage compartment on the Easyjet flight home. Amongst the stash were a pop-up book about Charles Dickens and an illustrated book about Laika the first dog in space, (big thanks to my lovely friend Anne Weinhold, children’s book publisher and host extraordinaire who let me raid her stock cupboard), a book of John Updike’s essays and yet another Dylan biography, (I think the Dylan thing may soon require an intervention).
This should have been more than enough book buying for one weekend. However, whilst purchasing coffee in Waterstones Brighton on Sunday morning I happened to notice the new collection of George Saunders shorts. I could not resist and as it was buy one get one half price, I thought it criminal not to also purchase Alice Munro’s new collection and then, seeing as I was holding two short story collections in my hands and had just that morning begun Karen Russell’s new collection, (and Aimee Bender was sitting by the till at the tantalising price of £2.99), I decided on the spot that February shall be short story month. It seemed appropriate to honour the shortest month by reading only the shortest stories.
Short stories have always been my secret favourite literary form. The best collections are like boxes of chocolate, linked by the writer’s voice yet perfectly formed and capable of standing alone. As a reader I find nothing more satisfying and indulgent than reading a short story collection cover to cover, diving headlong into each new experience and set of characters. It’s the literary equivalent of speed dating.
I’d love to hear suggestions of good short story collections worth investigating or rediscovering and will be blogging my month of #februaryshorts over at www.mybookishfriends.wordpress.com If there are any bookish friends out there who’d like to take on the challenge of keeping it short this month why not join me.
Ps. thanks to the wonderful Brid Gallagher for the above image. These, apparently, are February shorts, most likely belonging to a reader from warmer climes.