Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy Endings, or, why none of these short stories seem that original.

While I can not say I’ve been particularly turned off by any of the stories we have read so far in class, I can not say I’ve been all that blown away by the more modern short stories. One of the reasons for this is that it seems as though the ideas for the stories are a bit, recycled, for lack of a better term. This is kind of maddening, and it seems as though modern authors are more than happy to try to take old stories and add to them. For example, in 7C, I felt as though I was reading Stephen King or possibly a more sinister version of Donnie Darko. While this is not a pleasing thing, it makes the best short story we have read ring even truer than it would have had I not read the rest of these short stories. That is, these other short stories prove Happy Endings right. It is true that all stories, whether we are told or not, end in the characters death in one way or another. Either they die a bittersweet death of old age or some disease or they are taken before their time in a blaze of glory or some such thing. What makes these new stories worth reading is to see the ways in which they update the previously told endings. For example, while I did not really like 7C, it would be hard to argue against its originality. The way the story is told is far more interesting than the story itself, and it sucks us in by other means than its plot. The plot of 7C would be, in laymen’s terms; man has friend, wife; man goes crazy, man kills friend, possibly wife, self, unwitting neighbor. Okay, I have seen a horror movie so I saw how that was going to end. But as we are told in Happy Endings, its not necessarily the end of the story or even the plot that matters, but what makes the stories different.

1 comment:

Alex Moseman said...

I agree with you completely. I think you also raise a good point about structure that all authors work within, and what makes it so challenging to write something original is that in one way or an other its all been done before.