Is my observation correct? If there is a correlation, what might be the causation?
Some possible answers:
– Suspension of disbelief is hard to sustain in longer works of genre fiction which necessitates both a talented writer and a willing reader.
– In terms of fantasy and horror, maybe it has something to do with the human psyche. It could be related to how we tend to only remember short snippets of dreams. So, this mght imply that the imagination works most effectively when highly focused.
– Maybe it has to do with technique. The loose and limited narrative structure that a short story allows may give more freedom for the imagination.
– It could be as simple as it being the tradition of the genres. Each generation of writers take their inspiration from and thus emulate the writers that came before them. The earliest imaginative stories were short and have been influential.
– Another possbility has to do with the expectations of publishers and readers. The genres have often had a special relationship with anthologies and magazines. Partly, this is because the genres have never been big money-makers. Short fiction is what sold, and publishing magazines is cheaper than publishing a book. If an author wrote enough short stories, they might be able to eke out a living. A short story has a quicker return in terms of making money than spending a long time writing a novel.
(2) Horror is somewhat unique amongst the genres. In some ways its the most respectable of the genres and someways its the least. The earliest horror writers such as Poe aren’t even kept in the genre section, and even many of the fantasy writers that make it into the mainstream are often of a darker persuasion. Horror seems to attact more literary writers than many of the genres, but simultaneously horror is the least popular of the genres in that its almost always the smallest section. Horror gets isolated by itself wheras Sci-Fi and Fantasy usually get mixed together.
Horror has always had a close relationship with philosophy, and it often seems that horror writers can be more loose with their narrative structure than the other genres. In many horror stories, not much happens at all narrative-wise… it can be rather cerebral where your stuck in a characters head and everything is subjective.
(3) I enjoy authors that have distinctive personalities and voices. The two examples that come to mind are William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, but to a lesser degree Kafka and Hesse fit in this category for me. As for WSB and PKD, here ar some of the traits they share:
– They both wrote fiction and nonfiction, and they often mixed the two together.
– As such, they often mixed autobiography into their fiction even to the extent of creating characters that essentially represented themselves.
– Along with this, because of their dstinctive personalities, they were both admired by other writers who also used them as characters in their stories.
– They use repeating themes and chracter types across all of their work.
WSB and PKD are flawed writers (and flawed human beings), but still their writings compel me to a greater extent than do the writings of supposedly better writers. Their is a humanity to their writing in that they both were interested in people and were great observers. Also, you coud tell how much they simply enjoyed telling a good story.
Despite their similarities, they were very different in manyways. For one, WSB travelled widely and PKD hated to travel. One other thing is that WSB was way more cynical, but probably the better writer of the two. PKD was a hopeless optimistic and more overtly spiritual. For sure, they both had their own versions of despair even though they might’ve dealt with it differently.
I sense that they represent different sides of my own personality. I don’t think they ever met even though they probably had some common acquaintances. In my mind I try to imagine what they would be like if they had met eachother.
I’m not sure if they’d even like eachother. They’d both probaly think the other one was crazy. WSB would be more confident and aloof, and PKD would be more nervous and talkative. If they ever became relaxed enough around eachother, they would probably start swapping weird anecdotes, and neither of them would be sure if the other one was telling the truth or merely telling a good story.