Through an encapsulating collection of female narrative voices, Jackie Kay’s Reality, Reality dips into the unique lives of an array of characters in a manner that concerns the serious plights of discordant women whilst maintaining a light-hearted warmth. This collection of short stories is one example of a genre that rarely finds itself upon bookstore shelves in comparison to the novel. Indeed, the narrative linkage throughout the short stories featured in Reality, Reality, relating it closer to the novel genre, may well have played a role in its publishing success.
Despite the infamous reluctance of publishers to print short story collections, a new device has risen to the fore of literature that is more inclusive than ever – the internet and, more specifically, social media.
The twitter feed @VeryShortStory has played a role in redefining the short story. In less than 140 characters writers are challenged to craft, igniting creative sparks among more than just career writers but also in every day people.
“As the cold rolled in, I bought some tape, using it to assemble my maxed out credit cards into a shelter for the financial winter.”
This example taken from @VeryShortStory has incredible scope for textual analysis and reflection. For some it is a compelling commentary on the harshness of capitalism in relation to the cold imagery of winter weather, whilst for others this very short story could carry entirely different meanings.
Wattpad, a free service which allows users to review and publish creative works online, also extends the relevance of the short story.
Through writing we express and identify aspects about ourselves that we might have been otherwise unconscious of. Through reading we learn to interpret others and expand our own expressive abilities. This powerful interplay has exciting potential in a move towards widespread literary engagement across social media platforms.
This liberation of literature allows the short story to exist organically, without the pressures of publication. It is a means of expression for the many, not just the privileged, and is true art.