National Short Story Week starts today.
Short stories are special for they encapsulate in a very short space all the very best elements of storytelling for they have a plot, characters, wonderful language and also some amazing settings. In the space of just a very few pages they can tell a complete story or leave the reader yearning for more.
Some short stories make up a whole narrative - think of the 1001 Arabian Nights, one story told each night so, by its very nature it had to be short! Then there is the traditional from whence they came - oral story telling - again these stories were meant to be short and succinct to appeal to their listener. Perhaps the most famous shrot story writer is Aesop. His Fables have been handed down over generations and are some of the most famous we now have. We should not however forget Kipling and his Just So Stories - also great classics this time explaining how the animals of the world came to be.
Not all short stories are 'classics' or old however. Dickens and Hardy, our great Victorian and Edwardian novelsists wrote short stories for their public audience and many of these were published in magazines of the day. Roald Dahl and Malorie Blackman have written volumes of short stories for the modern reader. there are many collections of themed stories which provide wonderful reading for all ages and my favourite short story writer of the moment is Toon Tellegan whose books have also been beautifully illustrated and are perhaps best described as a combination of Aesop and Kipling - charming moral stories that once you start you just can't put down. And being short they are very easy to finish!
An additional joy of the short story is the ability of the reader to dip into a volume at any story and read as many or a few as time permits - it is a great reading journey, a great way to be intorduced to new stories, genres and writers and a wonderful way in which to explore your imagination.
Pick up a short story this week, look at the National Short Story Week website and enjoy yourself - who knows where this adventure may take you?