Friday, May 4, 2012

Ryan O'Neill's Favourite Australian Short Story Collections

In the last few years I’ve been trying to read as many Australian short stories as I can. Below, in no particular order, are some of the best collections I’ve come across so far.

1. Ride a Cock Horse by Gillian Mears (1988) Mears is an exceptionally talented short story writer. This collection leaps about in time to follow the boyhood, young adulthood and old age of Albert, sometimes as the main character, and sometimes as a peripheral one. Towards the end of the book we learn, almost in passing, that Albert has died, and this obliqueness gives added poignancy to his death. Mears is a brilliant practitioner of the ‘linked collection’ or ‘novel in stories,’ a form that continues to be explored in this country through writers such as Patrick Cullen and Gretchen Schirm.

Ryan O'Neill's Five Tips for Writing a Short Story

Last year I spent a lot of time looking for writing tips to use in one of my short stories called, “Seventeen Rules for Writing a Short Story.” One thing I discovered is that just about every writer who has ever lived has some advice to give on writing, and that it’s very rare for any two writers to give the same advice. In fact, most of the time they contradict each other. At the risk of adding to the confusion, I’d like to offer my own suggestions to help in writing a short story. However, it should be borne in mine that any writing tips, whether from Kurt Vonnegut or Dan Brown, may best be taken with a pinch of salt because what worked for them (and me) might not work for you.