Reviews of Short Shorts (1982)
Review by spiphany (2005-04-05)
The title of this book ("Short Shorts: An Anthology of the Shortest Stories") is unintentionally slightly misleading, with the recent trend of writing stories in under 300 words, or 100, or 50; such stories are interesting for novelty's sake, but not much more. These stories do not fall into that category. They are simply shorter-than-average stories (between two and eight pages in length) - short stories condensed down to their essence. They depend not on plot but on excellent craftsmanship. Because of their length, the stories often take on a parable-like or dreamlike quality; for that reason, they linger long in the mind after reading.
Especially pleasing is the number of international authors included in this anthology, and the mixture of well-known and lesser-known writers, many of whom are difficult to find in English. Alongside Kafka and Tolstoy (both masters at this type of story) are Heinrich Böll's "The Laugher", Sherwood Anderson's "Paper Pills", Giuseppe di Lampedusa's "Joy and the Law". The variety of styles and subject matter is also excellent. On a personal note, I was also thrilled to see the last story included was Luise Valenzuela's "The Censors" which I read years ago in an English class and has stayed with me since.