It’s National Short Story Week and I have decided to post every day this week on the subject of short fiction. Yesterday I posted the ingredients for my current work in progress, a short story made up from some seemingly disparate elements.
Today I want to talk about my favourite short fiction periodical, a magazine that manages by the unique nature of its form to be, in my opinion anyway, the perfect vehicle for the presentation of short fiction: One Story. Each issue of One Story features exactly that, one short story, because they believe ‘that short stories are best read alone. They should not be sandwiched in between a review and an exposé on liposuction, or placed after another work of fiction that is so sad or funny or long that the reader is worn out by the time they turn to it.’ To provide further focus on the individual story, each issue includes an interview with the author about the inspiration and crafting behind their tale.
Since I started subscribing to One Story back in 2010 I have been blown away with the quality of the stories they present, reading work from both established authors (Etgar Keret, Aimee Bender, Emma Donoghue) and new, emerging voices. Many of the stories presented here have lead me to seek out their authors collections; most recently Miroslav Penkov’s East of the West because of One Story’s presentation of his excellent A Picture with Yuki in issue 148, and Elissa Schapell’s Building Better Girls because of the brilliance of her story Joy of Cooking in issue 152. You can see an impressive list of their back issues here.
One of the neatest features of One Story is the fact that once an author has published within their pages they are inelligible to submit any further fiction to them. In this way One Story can be sure to continue to present new authors and their stories to its readership. I recently had my first stab at submitting to their esteemed pages and am currently waiting to hear back about my one story. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Meanwhile, the latest issue features Jason Ockert’s excellent Still Life, a story of an art teacher and his student and the conflict caused when they fail to see each other clearly. In the story Ockert manages to bring his characters into stark contrasting focus then simultaneously drag them toward a confrontation and a final clarity that, like all the best short fiction, leaves the reader thinking of them for days and weeks after. I don’t really want to say more about the plot of the story lest I ruin the reading of it for any of you. Suffice to say, this issue is the perfect jumping on point for new readers. You can subscribe to print issues here and to a digital edition on Kindle for only 99p a month here.
Anyone else have a short fiction periodical they’d care to recommend?