Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NOÖ Knows Stories #3: Guest Post by Jamie Iredell

"I haven’t read a short story in a long time. I’m reading novels and book-length nonfiction. Lately, even in literary magazines, I’ve been turning to the nonfiction rather than the stories. I’ve been reading the things I’m reading because those are the things I’m writing, and I’m writing those things because it seems a natural progression to start off by writing short stories and “graduating” to writing novels. Also, as everyone knows, editors and agents want novels, not short story collections. I don’t think, though, that I’m not writing or reading short stories now because I want to give editors and agents what they “want.” I’m just doing what interests me now. It’s liberating to fall into a long work (either reading or writing it), like a novel. In the book I’m working on I run off on tangents, explore characters that I’m pretty sure won’t be important to the overall book, get off on descriptions, record songs and dreams—all kinds of shit. I’m not really worried about what it is I’m producing. I suppose all that will eventually get honed in successive drafts. I don’t think I could work like that with a short story. Short stories thrive on focus, a minimized number of important characters, conflicts, and settings. But maybe I should explode all that in a short story. I never have before. I should try it and see what happens. A short story that does that is Rachel B. Glaser’s “Pee on Water.” It’s about everything. It’s amazing." — Jamie Iredell, author of The Book of Freaks

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