Short Story Book Club Coming to Parkway Central Library

By Francis B. RSS Wed, July 10, 2024

Introducing a new book club at the Parkway Central Library — on the second Monday of each month, the Short Story Book Club will meet from 6:00–7:30 p.m. in Philbrick Hall to discuss collections of short-form fiction.

The first meeting will be August 12, when we’ll be discussing Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara. Bambara's stories in this collection explode with attitude, voice, and humor, and they demonstrate one of the great strengths of the short story: the ability to focus on the most vibrant character, the most exciting moment, and present it in a brief-but-potent piece of writing.


Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara


The great writer Jorge Luis Borges, in his collection Ficciones, said, "The composition of vast books is a laborious and impoverishing extravagance. To go on for 500 pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes!" While most readers might not share Borges’s dismissal of longer works (Borges never wrote a novel, instead making his career on short stories and essays), he lays out an excellent description of what a great short story is: something grand enough it could fill a book, which the writer has instead condensed and expressed in the shortest form possible.

Of course, not all short stories are like this, and that, too, is one of the pleasures of reading a collection — it provides a variety of styles, settings, characters, and themes. If a reader doesn’t like one story, they can quickly move on to the next. In anthologies where each piece is by a different author, the reader can sample several writers in the time it would take to read a novel by just one of them. In the Short Story Book Club, we’ll talk about which stories we liked best, which were the strangest, the funniest, the most surprising. I look forward to discussing all of this and more as we dive into this wonderful form of fiction!

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