What Short Story Cycles Really Are Good At

“This problematizing of textual unity within the short-story cycle revolutionized the novel, the short story, and American letters in the twentieth century. The absence of textual harmony in the cycle initiated new, pervasive narrative techniques and interests. The cycle’s privileging of openness and cyclicality over closure and teleology depicts the construction of contingent, provisional identities. Because a story represents only one moment in a sequence of moments, the construction of identity in the cycle is dynamic and resists static fixity. For these reasons, it has been an ideal form for portraying ethnic, racial, and regional identities, which so often treat the conflicts between autonomy and belonging.”

– from ONE STORY, MANY VOICES: PROBLEMS OF UNITY IN THE SHORT-STORY CYCLE, a PhD thesis by Jennifer J. Smith (2011) [emphasis mine]

To the point, I think. And a guiding star for my own writing, I wish.

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