The Short Story Perseveres

Saturn After Equinox,  Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA
Saturn After Equinox, Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, ISS, JPL, ESA, NASA

Today as I was reading the Book Section of the Boston Globe, I came across a reading recommendation for the Complete Stories of Deborah Eisenberg. Unfortunately, it was just literary advice and contained no information on the writer.

Not too long Deborah Eisenberg, an American writer whose literary output consists solely of four short story collections, received the prestigious and financially beneficial MacArthur Fellows. While other writers have pursued the sometimes lucrative activity of writing fiction and personal memoir, Ms. Eisenberg has stuck to the task of writing the short story. Her literary efforts have been aided by a teaching position at the University of Virginia.

Her short stories have earned her much praise and respect around the U.S., but her writing is probably off the radar of the average reader. Still, much credit is due to the writer for staying the course with one area of writing without much concern as to how the literary world will react.

Short story writers in this country are a small and unique group, as all but a few branch out to other forms of writing. Those who have stayed the course with the short story comprise a very short but impressive list. The two short story writers that pop into my mind are Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver, who have earned a unique place in American letters because of their devotion to this challenging genre. Most writers have started out with a short story collection and then moved on to other literary endeavors.

For those interested in reading Ms. Eisenberg her titles include Transactions in a Foreign Currency (1986), Under the 82nd Airborne (1992), and All Around Atlantis (1997) and most recently Twilight of the Superheroes (2006). Unfortunately, I have not read any of these works, but do find the topic of the short story in America, a subject which dates back to Edgar Allan Poe, to be a very fascinating subject.

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