Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Too Short to be Really Sweet

Wow it's been a while... indicative of my tiredness every morning, my busy Shabbosim (Bubby, the in-laws...), and a slightly lengthier (well maybe just really slightly) work, and well, yes, one that failed to hold my interest consistently.  It's an Austenprose pick, and in a big way - Laurel Ann, proprietress of Austenprose, edited a collection of short stories from Janite writer - mostly of JA paraliterature - with the common theme of somehow being inspired by the woman herself.  This book was not at the library when it came out, but I was eager to read it, since not only did Laurel Ann talk about it pretty incessantly, but Lauren Willig and Margaret Sullivan (Austenblog) contributed, so they mentioned it as well.  So I told Dov to buy Jane Austen Made Me Do It for me from B&N when he wanted to get me a present for Succos - yes, Succos - well actually, the last days.  But you know how it is - if you own it, you don't read it.  Which is why it had to wait for my library backlog to empty in order for me to pick it up.

I did pick it up of course, I think over two weeks ago now.  The stories are, of course, completely self-contained, so there's very little compelling you to go on to the next when you've finished one.  And they, also of course, held varying degrees of charm, humor, and romance.  The genres were (I might be dropping a story here or there), in parallel with Austen paraliterature as a whole, sequels/prequels/durings of the novels, real-life Jane Austen stories, modern spooky Austen ghosts, and chic lit with an Austen touch.  Of these, I'd say the ones I enjoyed the most were the last, which is kind of sad, since a lot of those were quite tangentially inspired by Jane, I'd say.  But of course, that gave their authors the freedom to develop plots/tones suitable to short stories.  So many of the others (well ok, some of these too) felt like they could have made promising novels... but the first lesson of short story writing is... a short story is not a novel.  Back in ninth grade, we studied some characteristics - irony and whatnot - but the point is, you need to manage to develop something we care about in only a few pages.  Or it just kind of falls to nowhere.

I'm not saying the stories were that bad - some of them were cute ideas, and one or two (sadly it was really only one or two) had decent romances going on.  There were definitely some I'd be excited to here were going to turn into a real novel (one, I think it was the Rubino one mentioned there is some possibility) and plenty, that, up to the abrupt ending, I was getting into.  Not surprisingly, most of the ones I liked were the authors I like.  Lauren Willig, Rubino, Jo Beverly (ok, I don't read her, but she's a legit romance writer, not Austen paraliterature) but surprisingly, I enjoyed the amateur one and Laura Viera Rigler's tales as well.  In short, these authors are people (mostly women :)) after my own heart.  There could be nothing too objectionable in a few pages meant to amuse.  And indeed, I found nothing to object to... but nothing to make me wish for a sequel either.

Verdict: 2.9/5

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