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The story of the 'short story'
November 29, 2012

I hope that by now, all of you have either watched or are planning to watch Ang Lee’s Life of Pi? Personally, I loved the experience almost as much as I loved the book, although the book and the movie are on two separate experiential planes. While the book is a surrealistic enigma, the movie is a magnificent spectacle. But I shall ramble more on Life of Pi later. For now, let me present to you our latest issue of Book Lover’s Club News.

The Short Story

Brokeback Mountain-Annie Proulx All of us enjoy a good story. ‘The short narrative’ has been popular across cultures and ages for its entertaining and didactic properties.

Epic narratives are the oldest form of literature available to us; they see modern manifestations in both novels and poetry. Similarly, the short story has been around since the beginning of language itself in the form of sermonizing fairy tales, myths or humorous anecdotes. This loosely-built short narrative has been restructured over time to become a more intense, stylized genre of literature. The components of a modern short story are the same as those of a novel: form, content, meaning, plot, character, conflict, style and atmosphere.

However, a short story differs from a novel in its size, of course, and hence also in its complexity. It tends to have fewer characters than a novel, a single plot and a central conflict. The predominant mood of the short story is often set right at the beginning though many a times, short stories have a surprise ending.

Our earliest introduction to the short story as a genre has been perhaps through Aesop’s Fables. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron are examples of popular short stories from the middle ages. Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are famous examples from more recent times.

Book Review Circle gossip

Most of us know of the Oscar award winning movie Brokeback Mountain directed by Ang Lee. What many of us would not know is that it has been adapted from a short story of the same name written by Annie Proulx. In fact, Proulx has won the O. Henry prize for the year’s best short story for Brokeback Mountain in 1998. It was first published in The New Yorker on October 13, 1997. The opera adaptation of the same story is scheduled to premier in the Teatro Real in Madrid in January 2014. Catch it if you can!

Book Review Circle suggested read:

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Test your Literary Quotient

See if you know answers to the following:
  1. Rudyard Kipling wrote a series of short stories for adults. Name it.
  2. Name James Joyce’s well known collection of short stories.
  3. Name the author of the mysterious and popular short story Rip van Winkle.


  1. Plain Tales from the Hills
  2. Dubliners
  3. Washington Irving
Do write in to me at with your comments, updates and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ok. I will leave you to munch on that.

Happy reading till we meet again.


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