Dear short story friends, welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your August vacation from the read-along. But now we’re back, and since it’s back-to-school season, it’s time to resume thinking about the short story–at least in my little corner of the literary world.
While we were “on break,” I took a fascinating writing class at the amazing Grub Street in Boston. I am so very lucky to have a writing center like Grub Street just an hour from home. The class was called “The Structure of Short Fiction,” taught by Ron MacLean, an award winning short story writer and novelist. In the six week class, we looked at just a few of the structures that a writer can use to tell his or her story. This class taught me so much, but most importantly, it taught me why I often struggle with short stories. And I think the class has been key in helping me to figure out why so many readers who love novels find it difficult to embrace the short story. Of course, it’s not an easy thing to explain, so please don’t ask. I’m struggling to get my thoughts into some kind of coherent structure of their own so that someday I may tell you. But let me just say that that question was the impetus for Project Short Story, and I feel I’ve succeeded in finding my answer.
My favorite story from Ron’s class was Etgar Keret’s “What Of This Goldfish Would You Wish?” I had read a few stories by Keret, but this one just grabbed me. I left the class almost dancing, because I felt that I had been handed a gift in the form of this story. (So Ron, if you have a Google alert set up for yourself and see this post, thank you!)
Now I want to share this gift with you. There are a few ways you may experience this story:
Hear it read by Gary Shteyngart
Hear it performed on This American Life by actor Michael Chernus
Read it online
Read the story in Keret’s collection Suddenly, A Knock on the Door
When you’ve read or listened to the story, please post your thoughts in the comments. I hope someone out there loves this story as much as I do.