For a few years, I didn’t read fiction.
It was around the time I finished high school and started university, and I was stuck in-between the fantasy I had devoured as a teenager, and the dense and often depressing books with orange covers that bookstores told me were the best. I didn’t really know what I wanted to read, what sort of stories would interest me, what kind of characters I could understand. So I read non-fiction for about three years, mostly art books, some popular science, until the day I discovered short stories.
At a friend’s brother’s garage sale I found a box set of Pocket Penguins, 20 cents each or 20 dollars for the lot. I got the lot. I ran my fingers along the coloured spines and wondered which to read first.
I chose The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells. And I realised what I had been doing wrong.
At approximately 54 pages each, the pocket penguins didn’t require the same investment as a novel; they were quick, sharp, full of impact. So many of them were wildly inventive, as if the shorter form afforded authors an opportunity to play, to test ideas in a way that wouldn’t always be possible in a longer format .
What I had been doing wrong as I searched for a book to read was looking for a particular book. Something that would blow my mind, change my whole perception of the world, reveal the hidden truth of the universe. That is, I was searching for a book that didn’t exist. And every time I failed to find it, I felt disillusioned.
Short stories allowed me to read a lot, read diversely, and deeply, in a small space of time. I returned through the gateway into fiction reading no longer looking for something that was “good”, but something interesting and unexpected. Now I read as much as I can, as many different kinds of books as there are, and I don’t expect them to be the best thing since sliced bread, only to give me a shiver of recognition, to open my eyes a little more, to bring the world closer.
Short stories got me back into reading fiction.
A few years later, I returned to my other passion: writing. And as before, short stories proved to be an excellent point of entry.
So I’ve started this blog, as a way to share my writing. Hopefully you will find something here you like. If you do, tell me about it. If you don’t, also tell me about it. I’m here to learn.