Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Persephone short stories
I have always been a professed short-story non-reader. My feeling until recently that if a short story wasn't very good, then it wasn't worth bothering with (although at least one hadn't wasted too much time reading it), and if it was good, then one would want it to go on for longer and be a novel. When I heard Nicola Beaumann talk at the Woodstock bookshop back in December I wondered if I should re-evaluate my feelings towards the short story
I picked up The closed door and other stories by Dorothy Whipple while I was at the shop, and decided to give it a go on the train on the way home. I was absolutely hooked. The Persephone catalogue says: "it is a feat indeed to make a short story into a page-turner since normally a story is a photograph, an impression, an atmosphere.", but this is what Dorothy Whipple manages to do with these tales.
Since visiting the shop I've read two more of the short story collections - Frances Towers' Tea with Mr. Rochester and Mollie Panter-Downes' Good evening Mrs Craven. Neither of them were as gripping as Dorothy Whipple, and I did find the Frances Towers stories a bit samey, but I read them in a different way to previously, and read them with interest in what they had to say about the period that they were describing. I'm finding that the short story is good for when there isn't really time to sit down and be immersed in a novel, although they actually take more concentration than reading a novel because there is a greater danger of missing the point.
Persephone published a number of short story collections - has anyone else read any of the others? And what are people's favourites?
(PS: The picture at the top is the lovely endpaper from The closed door...it's a dress fabric but I think it would make lovely curtains!)