Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: short stories vs novella

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 24 Dec 2003


Utne Indie Culture 2004 seems to be a one shot put out by the Utne Reader, which is kind of a leftist Readers Digest, drawing together articles from numerous alternative presses.

And for the record, they were not discussing mysteries, but Lit-ra-chuh. Since it's short, I figured I'd type out the whole thing:

Literary Genres Overrated: The short story Underrated: The novella

Even at its best, there's something breathless about the prestigious short story form -- we're dropped into a ficitional world just long enough to prepare us for the Big Moment -- the betrayal, the death, the epiphany -- then goodbye. The novella takes a small-scale, short-story situation and gives us more: more about the characters, more atmosphere, more breathing room. Great novellas like Kafka's Metamorphosis, Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilych and Saul Bellow's Seize the Day feel like fully deeloped novels, even though they may only depict a single day -- or a single moment. The novella form, invented in Germany two hundred year ago, thrives today in the hands of everybody from American novelist Charles Baxter to Japanese hipster Banana Yoshimoto. -- Jon Spayde


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