More Challenges: The Short Story Initiative


I know I said I wasn’t sure if I could manage the Readers Imbibing Peril reading event — but now I’m diving into another one. Even after only one R.I.P. review, I’ve gotten a noticeable bump in my readership here, so hey — why not try for another boost? It’s for something that I would do, anyway.

Nancy Cudis, at simple clockwork, has been running an event called Short Stories on Wednesdays for a while (she took over from someone else). I’ve enjoyed lurking quietly at the event (and at the simple clockwork blog in general), and I’ve learned about many Filipino authors — another interest of Nancy’s — that I hadn’t been aware of before.

Now she’s taking Short Stories on Wednesdays to a new level: The Short Story Initiative. It’s a monthly. Participants read short stories about once a month, and link them to the site. At the end of the month, Nancy will post a summary of all the short stories reviewed. Each month there is a suggested, but not mandatory, theme.

If you’d like to play, too, the details are at the link above. The link to sign up is here, along with some get-to-know you questions, which I’ll answer in a bit.

The themes for September and October are “Getting to know each other” and “Crime/suspense stories” — October, at least, fits nicely with R.I.P. as well, so I might double-dip (hope that’s okay!).

Okay — now for the Q&A session:

P1010975Photo: Nina Zumel

Why do you want to join The Short Story Initiative?

I’ve always preferred short form writing to long form: short stories and essays are what I read. And then sometimes, I post about them. This gives me a forum to share the stories I like with other readers who are interested in the short story form. And the themes will encourage me to stretch my range.

What kind of short stories do you read? Is there a specific genre or culture or nationality you would like to explore through short stories?

I prefer weird tales, though they don’t necessarily have to be supernatural. Ebooks and Project Gutenberg have opened up a whole new world of “Golden Age” ghost story writing for me. I read them before, but now there’s so much more to find… But I also read many other genres as well, including literary.

Who is your favorite short story writer? Why?

I’m not sure I have a favorite writer, more like favorite stories. But if I have to pick, right now I would say my favorites are Julie Orringer, Neil Gaiman, M.R. James, Edith Wharton.

What is the most memorable short story you have read?

Julie Orringer’s “Note to Sixth Grade Self” makes me cry every time I read it. Annie Proulx’s “Them Old Cowboy Songs” is breathtaking — all of her Wyoming stories are terrific. Ryan Harty’s “Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down.” (How funny, none of those are weird tales. Though Harty’s is science fiction.)

What is your experience with short stories in the past? Is it a good or bad experience?

They are pretty much the only fiction I read nowadays, so my experience has been good. That’s not to say I haven’t read some awesome novels and novellas, but I like the “hold it in your hand” feel of a good short story.

Share one book confession when it comes to short stories?

It’s generally hard for me to stick to one collection at a time, so I’m often reading three or four simultaneously. Sometimes I lose track and I will find a collection at the bottom of the stack on my bedside table that I started months ago and still haven’t finished!

Share something about yourself that has nothing to do with short stories.

I love to dance.

That’s it. Let the fun begin!

6 thoughts on “More Challenges: The Short Story Initiative

  1. Hi Nina! Your linky went through; I’ve checked. It’s okay to do a double-dip. I’m actually thinking the same thing because I’ll be reading more Ruth Rendell’s strange short stories this month and next month for The Short Story Initiative. So why not get them for RIP as well? Thanks for introducing me to RIP, by the way. I’ll read The Screaming Skull during lunch hour today. Like you, I don’t complete short story collections as well; I mean, not in one sitting. Besides, I don’t think collections are meant to be read like novels. On another point, I’ll check out Gaiman’s short stories because I just learned he wrote them; you see, I strongly associate him with his long fantasy novels. Thanks for joining The Short Story Initiative! You’re right—let the fun begin!

    1. Gaiman’s short stories are terrific; I’m going to do one for RIP (and maybe double-dip it for Short Story Initiative, too :). Glad that you are joining RIP — the more the merrier!

  2. Hi Nina,
    Glad you’re joining the Short Story Initiative. I really like your blog and its focus on the “weird” tales too. I also love the old, classic ghost stories. Love M. R. James too, of course. I have a book of Wharton’s ghost stories too, but haven’t gotten to it yet. & The Screaming Skull was one off tales my old book club read last October when we had a Ghost Story Month feature.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for the kind words about the blog.

      The Wharton ghost story collection is great, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. “Afterward” has always been one of my favorite ghost stories.

  3. Oh! Have you read any stories by Haruki Murakami? All the stories I’ve read by him so far, are weird. Really interesting! You might also like Edgar Allen Poe if you haven’t tried him. 🙂

    1. I started Murakami’s collection The Elephant Vanishes — but it became one of the collections that got buried at the bottom of my ever-shifting stack. 🙂
      I like what I’ve read so far, though.

      I like Poe, mostly the psychological horror (as opposed to his Gothic stuff). His detective stories are fun, too.

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