Friday, July 10, 2009

Classic Short Stories from Harper with a Twist of Modern

I recently heard from Jason that Marie, the buyer at Vroman's, was musing about sales increases for short story collections. Publishers are alternately enthusiastic and disdainful of the genre. With the decline of the service magazine, the (paid) outlets for the non-genre story appear to be New Yorker and Harper's. Of course there are lots of wonderful literary journals, but I have been told that more than a few pay you copies of the journal.

It serves a purpose for academics, which is to be an outlet for publication. You can't undervalue that. But you also can't trade that for lottery tickets, generally speaking.

That said, HarperPerennial is trying their hand with publishing story collections as paperback orignals. Hey, it worked for Jhumpa Lahiri (many years ago). They're going one better by publishing a group of classic (public domain or authors they already hold rights to) collections, including one story from a contemporary practitioner that links to a current or upcoming collection.

Stephen Crane's An Experiment in Misery links to Dennis Cooper's Ugly Man. Featured in both collections is Cooper's story, "The Brainiacs." (Overheard from a customer: "I didn't know Stephen Crane was gay.")

Oscar Wilde's A Model Millionaire links to Simon Van Booy's Love Begins in Winter. Both include the Van Booy story "Tiger, Tiger." (We just brought in the Accoutrements author actor figures again and I'm glad to say our first sale was for Oscar Wilde. No speculation on Van Booy's sexuality. Love Begins in Winter is a July Indie Next pick that was also recently lauded by my Boston librarian friend Scot).

The Happy Failure, by Herman Melville includes "The Beast of Beddgelert" by Alex Burrett, which is also in the newly released collection, My Goat Ate Its Own Legs.

These classics are out, but the modern collections will be released in the fall:

The Bohemian Girl, by Willa Cather includes "Kidding Season", by Lydia Peelle (collection in August).

Family Happiness, by Leo Tolstoy includes "Life Expectancy" by Holly Goddard-Jones (collection in September).

A Disgraceful Affair, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky includes "St. Luis of Palmyra" by Barb Johnson (collection in November).

Our story table is filled out by other modern collections, including Jay McInerney's retrospective How it Ended, recently reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review.


Scot Colford said...

Hey, that's me in your post! I can't recommend Van Booy highly enough. And if anyone's wondering, he's very pretty, tidy, and fashionable, but there are some pretty strong indications he's of the hetero species.

Oh, and he's awfully funny, too.

Unknown said...

Oh man, that Lydia Peelle is SO GREAT.