AN ARGUMENT FOR "AMERICAN POP LIT."
Literature has become marginalized over the years, losing its pre-eminent cultural spot. Within literature, the short story has become marginalized most of all.
Yes, well-schooled writers are producing many finely polished literary stories, objects of highest regard. Their proprietors place the polished objects on display in showrooms and wait for customers to pour through the doors. But no one's buying.
What today's stories aren't doing is connecting with the American public. The number of major magazines publishing short stories has dwindled to one.
Yes, TV!, and computers, and sports, and music, and TV!, and Ipods, and TV!
Which means, you don't retreat into a far corner of the cultural department store. You go on the attack. You find a way to create a product so alluring it demands to be bought. You drag yourself into the artistic laboratory. What will work? What ingredients need to be added or enhanced?
Stories are works of imagination. You don't need to purchase dangerous chemicals to create the new story, or rob graveyards, or retool a closed automobile plant. To create the new short story you simply need to imagine it.
Do you know there was a time when the short story, and not the pop song, was THE popular American art form? That a story writer-- and not baseball player Henry Aaron-- had a candy bar named after him? That story writers F. Scott Fitxgerald and Ernest Hemingway had the celebrity of rock stars?
We can debate what kind of short story is needed to rejoin the public. First it must be accepted that the task can be done.