Lydia Davis is probably one of the more famous practitioners of the short short story. I heard her interviewed about her piece on Glenn Gould's love of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and what it means to us when someone we admire likes something we like and how it enables us to underscore our beliefs in our own judgements. If Glenn Gould likes MTM then clearly we have something in common and maybe I am slightly touched by genius, too. (The other side of the argument we ignore: all the fools who like MTM have nothing in common with me!). Her collection Varieties of Disturbance has some gems. From "Television":
It's partly my isolation at night, the darkness outside, the silence outside, the increasing lateness of the hour, that makes the story on television seem so interesting. But the plot, too, has something to do with it; tonight a son cames back after many years and marries his father's wife. (She's not his mother).
Another one, titled "Lonely":
No one is calling me. I can't check the answering machine because I have been here all this time. If I go out, someone may call while I'm out. Then I can check the answering machine when I come back in.
This one is slightly dated, given the fact that many of us don't have "answering machines" anymore. The mere idea seems terribly archaic: that we leave messages that someone may listen to today or tomorrow or later. No, today, we need immediate gratification (if I text someone and they don't answer within 15 minutes, I often start to get worried). Yet the universality of this is still very relevant and who hasn't had a thought like this at some point?
Some are just funny: "Idea for a Short Documentary Film":
Representatives of different food products manufacturers try to open their own packaging.
Others in this collection are quite beautiful, haunting and even moving. Many writers wonder if this form could possibly take off in this hyperly-succinct world we live in though I am less than optimistic about this idea. Still: I do wish that the short story generally would become more relevant to the average guy on the street....maybe short short stories are one route to relevance...?
|Varieties of Disturbance|