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April: Graywolf Press Book Club > DQ 2: The Characters: Voices

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message 1: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
The Boston Globe called Tiphanie Yanique a "ventriloquist" because of the drastically different voices in her stories. Is it challenging to read one story in the voice of a gangster in love, and then another in the voice of a Gambian priest, or does the variety make the collection more enjoyable?

message 2: by Mark (new)

Mark Jenkins I enjoy it and it's one thing that can makes a short story collection more readable than a novel. First, if a particular short story isn't working for me, it isn't as huge a problem. From my few attempts at writing short stories, it also seems like a big difference to sustain a voice/ narrator in a short story compared to a novel. I almost want to go back and reread Yanique's collection, because I didn't especially like the first few stories. In fact, I think I liked the last few the most. It could be because it took some time to get used to her writing, or maybe I just didn't like the first few stories.

It's too bad that there is such a bias against short story collections and that after so many successful first books that are short story collections, the writer is nearly forced to produce a novel. There are probably better examples, but one that comes to mind is Anthony Doerr. His collection “The Shell Collector” is excellent, but his novel “About Grace” is just okay.

message 3: by Marisa, Moderator (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) | 244 comments Mod
You make a really interesting point, Mark. It seems like, despite the plethora of fantastic short story collections on the market, very rarely do they take off the way novels do. Most people would probably argue that it's easier to "get into" a 300-page novel, get invested with the characters, etc.

But I love short story collections. They're like a really good mix tape or an all-you-can-eat buffet. I love the variety and it always amazes me that so many diverse plots and characters and styles and voices can come out of one author.

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