On those days when I need give my writing self a swift yank back to “simple,” I reach for advice from my go-to short story geniuses: Richard Yates, John Cheever, Raymond Carver. I wish I could talk more people into reading short stories. They’re respected by writers, sure, but not enough by the average reader. I tried to push OLIVE KITTTERIDGE on everyone I knew when it won it’s prize, but people just were not interested. I loved that book. I’ve also recommended T.C. Boyle’s short stories a ton, but no one bites. They’re off-the-charts great, but it seems like the only people who know it are in academia. Sad.
Here’s Carver: “I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chi-chi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing- a sunset or an old shoe- in absolute and simple amazement.”