I love the fact that International Short Story Day, June 20th, is celebrated on a solstice.That’s to say: the day the sun (sol) stands still (sistere).
Apart from the rather pleasing philological connection with short days/nights/stories, there might be other affinities too between a solstice and this literary form.
Short stories are often built around liminal moments in which everything that has gone before and everything to follow collates, counterbalances, or even nullifies into a highly charged realization or consummation of a life vector.
At this point, our inner so(u)l really does seem to stand still: petrified, both timorous and transfixed, by the searing truth we feel we ought to be able account for, and yet often can’t.
If there’s anyone who deeply understands this power that the short story conspicuouly holds, it’s Tania Hershman, who not only writes them, but has also read more short stories in her role as editor of The Short Review, and judge of various short story competitions than anyone else I know.
As she reveals in this episode of RMSYL, it was Ali Smith who first bestowed upon her one of these inner solstices, in which we can now all bask.