Sunday, March 08, 2009

Jigs & Reels, Joanne Harris

Since studying creative writing with the OU, it's become a neccessity to write short stories for assessment. At first glance this didn't seem too difficult (2000 words on whatever you like), but I soon realised that my only experiences of short stories came from weekly magazines read in Doctor's surgeries.

Since last September, I have been grabbing hold of anthologies by well known authors in an attempt to grasp the art of a quick read and learn some of the tricks these authors use. My first (a collection by Stephen King) was unfortunately devoured by my puppy after I left it on a table in the living room. From the one I read though it seemed his idea of a short story was somewhat longer than mine.

Yesterday though, I came across the above collection by Joanne Harris by accident. I was just about to leave the bookshop empty handed (being hurried along by my partner and four year old) when it caught my eye in the sales pile. I'm reading Blackberry Wine at the moment so I thought it wouldn't hurt to have another of her novels to add to the collection. By pure luck, it tuned out to be an anthology of short stories.

I've only got through three of the stories so far but I have to say, I will continue to read them. All three have been very different in subject matter and mood and all with surprising endings. The stories also left enough untold to keep you thinking and wondering about them after finishing reading. In her preface, she describes how difficult she finds the short story and this collection of 22 stories has, in fact taken her 10 years to put together.

Definately one to keep in the bookshelf and learn something from.

Joanne Harris Website

1 comment:

Working mum said...

HI! Thanks for popping in to mine. Thought I'd reciprocate.

Just read about your assignments with short stories - I did short stories for my O Level English Literature instead of a novel. There was one by Walter de la Mare that involved shovelling dead bodies in a heap that still haunts me to this day. Then, later in life, I went on to read other short stories like Rudyard Kipling's "The Man who would be King" and Oscar Wilde's "Lord Arthur Saville's Crime". Fantastic! A much maligned genre and certainly more interesting than the magazine ones you refer to! Good luck with writing your own!