The Short Story as fiction’s ultimate form of fiction.
I’m sitting at the front of the class, with my notes and my presentation, throwing out leading questions on the two short stories we’ve read for our homework. Sounds like school, but this is adult education. We’re in the church hall, on a sunny Autumn morning, by choice.
My paperback copy of The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by Antonia Byatt, is battered, but still holding together. It’s a working copy, with a continually shifting fringe of post-its. The terse notes on them have, here and there, strayed onto the pages. You’ll have gathered that, as an object, this book is no longer a thing of beauty.
As a source book for a reading group though, this anthology is a joy. The stories provide a taste of how short story ideas changed during the twentieth century, and they’re a challenge.
Half of my class, at least, are not sure about…
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