For me, reading a collection of short stories is like being at a party and having multiple short conversations with people I don’t know well. Striking up a conversation and getting to know them requires a degree of effort. Some of them may confront my beliefs and assumptions with disturbing violence. I find sinking deep into a long novel much easier, like entering into a relationship with a degree of trust: a relationship in which you can freely pick up again where you left off, at whatever page. Nevertheless, some of the most memorable interactions in one’s life may be with strangers at a party.
Under normal circumstances I tend to read a lot more novels than short stories, but since the pandemic hit, I have been mainlining surreal Japanese short stories, the quirkier the better. I’m sure there are an infinite number of stories out there I have yet to discover, and I am excited to do so, but my available head space now resembles a London studio flat.