Short Stories and Attention Spans

Texting becomes faster, the fewer words used. Twitter allows for a limited number of characters per post (140). We post brief status reports on our social networking sites throughout the day. Is it any wonder that our attention spans are dwindling? That our minds begin to think in shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs; shorter versions of things? And that eventually, that carries over to our reading habits?

The short story is coming into vogue. I used to despise them. Short stories seemed to only give me a little taste of what I was seeking. But today, there are short story authors who seemingly capture worlds within a single carefully constructed sentence. When taken in context with other carefully constructed sentences, my mind begins to feel nourished by a story in the same way it has by a book, in the past. From Jhumpa Lahiri’s work in Unaccustomed Earth to David Sedaris‘ tales of growing up in his books, such as Me Talk Pretty One Day.

An excellent introduction to short stories by some of the great authors of literature is available at Short Story of the Day . Signing up with your email address will deliver a single story to your inbox each day. You can browse the previous selections to find one of particular interest, or browse for stories written by your favorite authors. There is even an igoogle gadget available, bringing a short story to your igoogle page each day.


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