For six years I have read approximately fifty New Yorker short stories each year, evaluated each one, and then blogged a response. At the end of each year I published separate posts about data I had collected: average length of story, number of male or female authors, domestic or foreign settings, even the most oft-used point of view or tense, attempting to formulate some sort of profile of the New Yorker story. I’m not sure that any such profile made itself evident. A great story is often great because it cannot be nailed down; there is a certain essence, part of the creative process, which cannot necessarily be delineated.
The practice of profiling stories has been a productive and enjoyable one for several reasons. It has put me in touch with fiction that some of the best writers of short fiction in English are currently producing (with an occasional translation thrown in). I’ve also witnessed a variety of ways to the approach of writing a short story, from the mostly traditional to the sometimes avant-garde. That said, the New Yorker story may mostly exist for entertainment. When I began the Project in 2011, I had thought a blog might expand my readership, but, to date, I do not have the data to prove that it has, so I’m going to change things up in 2017.
Beginning this year, I shall continue to read each New Yorker short story. However, I shall post concerning only what I consider to be the top stories (usually fifteen or twenty) —receiving three ***. All the remaining stories will receive only a sentence-long description and a rating: ** for Above Average, and * for Average. I shall also profile, from time to time, short fiction from other literary journals, both print and online, as well as continue my practice of blogging about the books I read under My Book World posts. Because I am currently working on a major project and need as much computer time as possible, perhaps this practice will yield me a bit more time each week. I would enjoy hearing from anyone who follows or reads my blog!
Richard Jespers is a writer living in Lubbock, Texas, USA.
See my profile at Author Central: