Stuff On Sundays: Keep it short!

I have to admit I don’t read much in the way of stand alone short stories, the main reason is simply the speed at which I read makes them an impractical choice, though I do pick up the occasional anthology.   I have read a few very successful short stories but I often find that just as I am involved in the story, it ends and there is no where for me to go so the experience for me is often frustrating.

What started me thinking about short stories was an email from Allen & Unwin regarding the launch of their new range of short stories. In theory I think it’s a great idea, I do think a lot of readers, particularly casual readers, are more likely to read shorter pieces and they will be particularly convenient for those with e-readers.  They have something unique to offer, especially for those that are pressed for time or use their commute to work, or lunch break, to read. Short stories and novellas may also value in introducing people to an authors work without the reader having to commit to a  full length novel.

Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin are introducing A&U Shorts in May, beginning with 5 e books  by notable Australian authors. For just $1.99 you will be able to purchase a short for your ereader – they will be available for the Kindle, Kobo and from ebook retailers like BookU and Readings (Full list here)

The first five books to be released are

Tom Keneally, Blackberries
Austin North sees himself as a fine English teacher in his local high school. His students respect him, and he finds personal fulfillment in teaching them the power of poetry to move and inspire. However, Austin’s self-perceptions are upset by his infatuation with a young Sudanese girl, a recent immigrant to Australia. When Austin realises that he is just another predator in her difficult journey, he is forced to re-examine his own values and relationships.

Alex Miller, Manuka
In this haunting story, two Australian men are hired to clear the ubiquitous manuka scrub in a bleak and rain-swept New Zealand gully. As their wide open homeland and dreams of teaching the locals how to break in horses begin to seem increasingly remote, the backbreaking, monotonous work and isolation soon take their toll, on body and mind.

Peter Temple, Ithaca in my Mind
On a lazy summer morning, ageing author Vincent Duncan takes an unsettling phone call from his literary agent. Peter Temple indulges his humorous side in this scathingly brilliant portrayal of a writer past his peak.

Christos Tsiolkas, Sticks, Stones 
My God,’ she thought, a coldness settling in her, ‘do I hate him?’ After witnessing her teenage son insult a disabled girl, a mother struggles with contempt for her child. Compelling short fiction from Australia’s master of dark suburbia.

Charlotte Wood, Nanoparticles
In ‘Nanoparticles’, Lisa cannily observes the people waiting alongside her at the motor registry, from the harried mother of two to the man engrossed in his newspaper. With her characteristically sharp and tender observations, Charlotte Wood examines the smallest things that draw us together and the many larger issues that wrench us apart.

Unfortunately the Shorts will only be available for purchase for ANZ residents (I think – I can’t get anyone to answer me) , which is a shame, as it would seem to me that these shorts would be the perfect way to introduce overseas markets to Australian authors. EDIIT: A & U let me know that there are no geographical restrictions on the Shorts and they will be available internationally.

Amazon introduced Kindle Singles in January of 2011 and claimed to have sold more than 2 million in just over a year. It seems that the idea has real appeal for many readers. I’m certainly tempted to give these Shorts a try – particularly the short by Charlotte Wood.

Tell me – Do you read short stories? Why or why not?

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 08:59:41

    Awhile ago, Amazon.com had its “Amazon Shorts” program, which I really enjoyed. I had a story up on that site. But then they closed the program down. Maybe they didn’t get enough money from the stories.

    A & U Shorts sounds like a similar program, but maybe better, since the stories can download to e-readers.

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  2. jacabur1
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 09:53:59

    Shorts of 200 pages or less are meat and potatoes reads for me, a nice break from the 350-400 or more page books I normally read.
    Moira Rogers has under 100 page novellas that were perfect on my Android phone.

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  3. 1girl2manybooks
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 19:38:22

    I’m not a big short story reader, for the same reason as you and also because they often leave me feeling like I read something incomplete. However I do have a few on my TBR list for #aww2012 this year.

    I have to admit, I’m intrigued by the A&U ones – it’s a pretty impressive line up of authors they’ve rolled out and for the price, I’m willing to give a couple a go and see how I find them.

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  4. Marg
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 20:23:17

    I never used to read that many short stories, but over the last year or so that has changed a little and I find myself reading more. I will be taking a look at some of these at least. I think Penguine have just issued some short stories as well so it does seem to be something that publishers are looking at more and more

    http://www.penguin.com.au/penguinshorts

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  5. The Australian Bookshelf
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 21:23:14

    I got the same email from A&U Shelleyrae and thought it was an interesting move for an Aussie publisher. I think you are right it would be a great way to put some feelers out to the international market for Aussie authors. Charlotte’s story caught my eye too.

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  6. notesoflifeuk
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 05:47:54

    It depends what mood I’m in as to if I want to read a short story. I dont’ read them often.

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  7. Mari @Bookworm with a View
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 10:09:19

    I also pass up on the short story, mainly because I enjoy character development. This is something I think is hard to do in a short story. I have read a few books that are a collection of stories, telling one story. I love those!

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  8. Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 20:32:47

    I was seriously book browsing that title by Charlotte Wood on the A&U website on the weekend – sounds great doesn’t it.

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