I just read an essay by Stephen King in the NY Times. He makes a lot of good points on the state of the short story including the fact that fiction magazines are relegated to the bottom shelf and how this illustrates a shrinking market. I’ve noticed the same thing…whenever I go to Borders I have to do the half bend neck crane to see the magazines on the bottom shelf. This is where they put the fiction magazines and the magazines about writing (include The Writer). Funny how Woodcarving Illustrated gets top billing. Is it really that much more popular?
It doesn’t help that many Americans don’t read books at all, let alone fiction. According to CNN Money, in 2004, the percentage of Americans that read fiction was 47 percent (full article here). That’s pretty sad. When I was growing up, I thought everyone read. I was introduced to the Hobbit in the 7th grade and thought it no big deal (others later told me they weren’t able to read Tolkien until they were in high school/college). Then I got to high school and found out that many of my classmates were illiterate. In a 10th grade English class, I was put in a group with three football players. I was amazed that they weren’t able to finish the one required book for the project. I read it along with all three of the extra credit ones. I’d notice those same students never reading aloud in class and seemed to have trouble with the assignments. They were illiterate. This was a huge shock to me. How do kids get all the way through school without learning to read? Why would you not tell someone that there’s a problem, knowing how badly that will hurt you once you are out in the real world.
But I digress, check out The Best American Short Stories 2007 which King edited. You should also read Stephen King’s article. And no, I haven’t done any writing lately. Things have been hectic lately; the art show is next weekend. That’s likely an excuse though, we’ll see.