The Soul of Wit
|H.H. Munro, AKA Saki|
For me, brevity is very important in fiction; especially in the "short story" form. I don't have much use for that oxymoronic hybrid known as the long short story (between 30 and 60 pages), with a few notable exceptions, Bartleby the Scrivener for example (45 pages). I mean, either shorten or lengthen the piece; novella is a much more valid form, i.e.; The Heart of Darkness, A Christmas Carol.
Some other notable examples, joining Saki's, of sublime short short stories are:
- Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
- Fat by Raymond Carver
- The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
- Mother by Grace Paley
- The Sock by Lydia Davis
The shortest (and yet cogent) story is said to have been scribbled by Ernest Hemingway; just six words: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." I guess this lends credence to another six words written by an even greater wordsmith: "brevity is the soul of wit".