I love delving into new authors without really having much or any knowledge of their work or style. Recently, on a trip to Newcastle, I had a bit of time to kill so I popped into a bookstore and browsed the shelves. On one of the shelves I found When I Was Mortal, a recently published short story collection by Javier Marías. I had heard of his name, indeed had looked at his novels before, but I had never read any of his work. The front cover grabbed my attention with the beautiful photograph of the crow, elegant yet not too understated.
I am fast becoming a fan of short story collections and folk tales. Vonnegut showed me the way and Márquez taught me the value of them, Marías is now enticing me to know more. The short story is a wonderful form, one that is much maligned in the modern printing world. Of course how could it not be? Where once it was a mainstay in helping the author to produce work and maintain an income whilst working on novels, it is now rare for authors to be able to earn a living from short stories as a sole main income. Only stable authors have collections of short stories out in the shops.
Of course this is largely due to the internet and the relatively dying off of short story magazines in recent decades. But where there is a will there is a way. New independent magazines are appearing all the time online and in hard copy, and you can contribute to them, as I have done. The Paperbook Collective is one such example: full of photography, poetry, reviews, short stories and short scenes. I also got wind that another friend is looking to set up an interactive online magazine full of music, photography, poems, short pieces and essays. It is something I look forward to contributing to. Even now as I type ideas fizz and pop into my head, short scenes stolen from real life or dreamt up in fantasy.
In the meantime I heading back to the world of Mariás. Keep on writing, keep on dreaming. (But, perhaps most importantly for me, I must keep on editing!).