I have mostly been a guy who either loves poetry or full-length novels. I seldom spent time in reading, seriously, the short stories – a genre that has seemingly betrayed itself by pushing the length of the literary production almost to the length of a novella. For examples, just bring into your mind the length of the short stories written by Jhumpa Lahiri in her collections Interpreter of Maladies or Unaccustomed Earth. You will be surprised because the length runs more than 50-60 pages and sometimes more for even one story. Is that good? Personally, I won’t engage with something in the form of a short story with such a length. Nevertheless, if the stories are too good, gripping and wonderful, things are different. If you are interested in knowing more about Jhumpa Lahiri’s second collection, you can read this: Unaccustomed Earth Review.
Short stories, I think, must be short. Otherwise, the complete essence of this genre is lost. You cannot pull the strings up to 100 pages and still call your composition a short story. As I said earlier, it betrays the very soul of this genre. I still remember the short stories that I liked, maybe by Chanakya or maybe by Aesop. Not more than a few hundred words and sometimes not more than just one page! Isn’t this wonderful? You begin something and end something with a moral lesson and the readers are happy. That’s what I want!
However, the authors today have been confusing themselves about the genres of literature. Poetry has become prose with length and form and prose seems to act like poetry with the use of literary ornaments and all the embellishments that you would otherwise see in lyrical poetry. This shift in the forms, while you may disagree, is there and it has tried to corrupt the very soul of literature which is not true at all. You cannot engage with something like this. I am still waiting for the authors of the day to realise that they have to keep things short if they have opted for it. If you write a 150-page short story, you are not doing anything good for yourself and neither for the readers.
With time, we do need evolution in forms of things. Literature must not be untouched of it and has never been. Unfortunately, we have come a long way from the creations like Ramayan and Ramcharitmanas, Mahabharat and Gita, Abhigyan Shakuntlama and Kumar Sambhavam to today’s literature… was it worth? Think about it.
By a contributor to Books to Read