Short-Short Fiction Criticism: General Statements - Essay

Robert Shapard (essay date 1986)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Shapard, Robert. Introduction to Sudden Fiction: American Short Stories, edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas, pp. xiii-xvi. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1986.

[In the following essay, Shapard chronicles the difficulty in naming Sudden Fiction, citing the novelty and distinctiveness of the short-short story genre.]

All the works in this collection are from one to five pages long, and all are by American authors. A few are familiar, but the great majority have been published within the last five years.

Because they are so new, and sometimes so unlike the modern notion of story, it was by no means clear at the outset...

(The entire section is 1636 words.)

Stuart Dybek (essay date fall 1987)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Dybek, Stuart. “On Short Short Fiction.” Michigan Quarterly Review 26, no. 4 (fall 1987): 723-25.

[In the following essay, Dybek explains the appeal of the short-short story form.]

I wonder how many other writers have, as I do, tucked away somewhere in files or boxes or trunks unopened for years, unpublished stories and poems written by friends. Or, for that matter, stories and poems that were published, perhaps in some obscure, poorly circulated, little magazine that has long since folded and been forgotten. I'm thinking especially of work by people who for any multitude of reasons no longer write, or who have turned to other kinds of writing, yet...

(The entire section is 916 words.)

Charles Baxter (essay date 1989)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Baxter, Charles. Introduction to Sudden Fiction International: Sixty Short-Short Stories, edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas, pp. 17-25. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1989.

[In the following essay, Baxter outlines the differences between short-short stories and longer fiction.]

Imagine, for a moment, that you have fallen asleep while reading a great book. Suppose that the book is War and Peace or Crime and Punishment or Moby-Dick; it doesn't matter, as long as the book carries with it a crushing weight of cultural prestige. But somehow, toward the middle, your attention flags, or you're not up to the challenge, or you're tired...

(The entire section is 3061 words.)

Jerome Stern (essay date 1996)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Stern, Jerome. Introduction to Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Really Short Stories, edited by Jerome Stern, pp. 15-19. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996.

[In the following essay, Stern considers the unique challenges in writing short-short stories.]

A short time ago I got a phone call from a man in New York who saw the announcement of Florida State University's World's Best Short Short Story contest. He said, “It said 250 words maximum. What is that? A misprint? I thought maybe it should read 2500 words. 2500 words is pretty short.”

“No,” I said, “250 words is right. It's a challenge, a problem in narrative. And it seems to be...

(The entire section is 917 words.)