Posted tagged ‘Male of the Species’

in short

November 5, 2019

So I’m working my way through a collection of short stories called Male of the Species by Alex Mindt. There’s a Pushcart Prize winner among them, and most have already been published in top-tier journals. And each story I’ve read has been well told, but I just can’t get excited about it.

There have been many books I’ve read where I can barely wait to pick them up again to see what comes next: plot, character development, tone, theme. Even books I’ve read more than once will do this to me. (Maybe the fact that I want to read them more than once is why I know I want to get back to them. Did that make sense?)

But short story collections just don’t do this for me. I think I’ve mention before that I have unfinished collections by Grace Paley and Raymond Carver on my shelf. This Mindt collection has kindled the same “fire” in me.

I’ve tried to understand what it is about myself that consistently causes this, and I think I’ve figured it out. A short story is self contained. You consume it wholly in one reading. A novel is more of a commitment, taking generally more than one reading. So while a short story may have a compelling plot or character development, when you’ve read it, you’re done. And that’s fine. But a novel demands more visits, and if it’s done well, I grow eager for those visits. (I’ve read plenty of novels that I dreaded getting back to and wished they would just end.)

So I’m reading pretty much one story a night of the Mindt collection, and while I’m immersed in it, I’m satisfied. But because each story ends, I’m not driven to see what comes next.