Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Acre, The Idea

Our Private Acre

First of all, just to explain the slightly cryptic title of this series of short introductions to short fiction (which will hopefully include your own input eventually). It’s bouncing off T S Eliot’s concept of a sacred wood, in which great works of literature – the canon – unfolds in a literary firmament. Imagine literature as a large web (the firmament) and this large, critical spider who is forever arranging flies (books) from the most edible (Shakespeare) to the least edible (insert your own author). As with the woods these flies are constantly changing, some get fixed in the web forever, others dominate the centre and vanish inexplicably; others remain on the precipice for decades then find themselves snugly cocooned in the middle.

In my head I imagine the organic, painfully slow evolution of this wood/web changing through history, altering with each generation, each new breed of writers. I am not academic though, not in the way Eliot stolidly was. I’d happily mess up the divisions of schools of writing to make space for some of my own preferences, cut the overgrown Dickens shrubbery for some flowering T C Boyle, plant the roots of Barthelme next door to Tolstoy – who will object? It is my acre. In the way I see things, we each have a version of our sacred woods, and as much as I agree that there is a thin objective firmament of literature that does not alter (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes etc) we each allot our authors their own plots in our private acres.

My choice of short stories to write about are subjective, but at the same time they’re chosen because I’m confident every writer of short fiction can learn something from them – and every reader can at the very least be entertained and hopefully find a free flowerbed to fill.

Call to Action: I want this to be a motley garden of tastes. I want you to submit your own Private Plantings to me, and I will include it in the Acre. (Email me your submission to

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