This weekend, Megan Lynch, a senior editor at Riverhead Books, will be joining her author Manuel Gonzales at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Seattle. They’ll be there for “Celebrating 20 Years of Extraordinary Fiction from Riverhead Books,” an unmissable reading on Saturday afternoon at the conference (Find more details here). Manuel will be reading from his short story collection THE MINIATURE WIFE, which Megan edited.
LS: Why shouldn’t aspiring writers give up on the short story form or on the prospect of putting together their own short story collections?
Manuel Gonzales: The beauty of the short story is that everything has been done to the short story. It’s been turned into a shopping list, a set of twitter posts, a menu (Roxane Gay‘s “Contrapasso”), and a PowerPoint presentation. It’s been minimalized and maximalized; it can be as short as 500 or 100 words or as long as whatever Alice Munro wants to write and call a story. So there’s nothing you can’t do with the short story. As a writer, you’re free to do practically anything, can experiment or not, and there’s something exciting about all the possibilities open to you as a writer. But truthfully, if you write short stories, if you can’t help but write short stories, if that’s how narrative spills out of you–not as a poem or a novel or a script, but as a story–then that is reason enough not to give up on the form.
Megan Lynch: As a reader, I love short stories and always have. As an editor, their appeal is simple: they can be perfect in a way that even the most polished novel can’t touch. And getting to really perfect something in the editorial process is a true joy; plus it works different creative muscles than the kind of structural edit you might do on a novel. So I hope writers will absolutely continue to write brilliant short stories, but they should also be aware that not only can stories be perfect, they pretty much should be. I take on plenty of novels that need significant work, but can’t do that with stories. Continue reading