Suspend Your Disbelief

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short story bubble?

On the Virginia Quarterly Review blog, Michael Lukas worries that AWP’s heightened emphasis on the short story is a contributing factor to what he calls the “Short Story Bubble”–and its eventual burst. I’m not sure I entirely buy his argument, but hey, it’s worth discussing…

All around the country, thousands of young fiction writers are scribbling furiously, focusing their creative and psychological energies on producing and publishing short stories, not necessarily because the short story is their favorite form. But, rather, because it’s the form best suited to the workshop, because they think it’s the easiest way to get published, because it’s what everyone else is doing. All the while, the literary magazines these young fiction writers hope to publish their stories in are supported largely by their own tuition, subscription, and contest entry dollars. It doesn’t take John Maynard Keynes to see that this is not a sustainable market. As long as MFA programs continue to grow, as long as short story writers are willing to pay $25 to submit to a contest, this closed feedback loop will continue growing. But, as a lover of the short story, I fear for the day when the bubble bursts. The global economy may not collapse, but I won’t be surprised if a few literary magazines do.

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