Life Is Short—Art Is Shorter is not just the first anthology to gather both mini-essays and short-short stories. Readers, writers, and teachers will get an anthology; a course’s worth of writing exercises; a rally for compression, concision, and velocity in an increasingly digital, post-religious age; and a meditation on the brevity of human existence.
- We are mortal beings.
- There is no god.
- We live in a digital culture.
- Art is related to the body and to the culture.
- Art should reflect these things.
- Brevity rules.
The book’s 40 contributors include Donald Barthelme, Kate Chopin, Lydia Davis, Annie Dillard, Jonathan Safran Foer, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, Jamaica Kincaid, Wayne Koestenbaum, Anne Lamott, Daphne Merkin, Rick Moody, Dinty W. Moore, George Orwell, Jayne Anne Phillips, George Saunders, Lauren Slater, James Tate, and Paul Theroux.
Quoted by David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman from the Introduction
The line of beauty is the line of perfect economy. —Emerson
I don’t want to be bogged down by the tangential, irrelevant, or unnecessary. Stick a spear straight to my heart—stick it straight to my brain. —Tara Ebrahimi
I like to imagine a brush fire, deep inside a national park. The reader is a firefighter, and the writer’s job is to drop that reader directly at the edge of the blaze to encounter the flames and smoke immediately. There is no time for the long hike in. —Dinty W. Moore
It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a whole book—what everyone else does not say in a whole book. —Nietzsche
Omission is a form of creation. —David Mamet
Review by Dinty W. Moore
Life Is Short Reviews Itself
[An assemblage of sentences lifted, Shields-style, from Life is Short – Art is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity.]
Objects are real. Details matter—to the devil and to everyone else, including...Forward
This self- interview is answered by voices from the anthology Life is Short—Art is Shorter by David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman.
How would you describe the brief selections in this book?
“ …ticks engorged like grapes” (Amy Hempel,...Forward
Bobs, tempers, college rejection letters, kinds of love, postcards, nicknames, baby carrots, myopia, life flashing before eyes, gummy bears, the loser’s straw, Capri pants, charge on this phone battery, a moment on the...Forward
We cowrote and coedited Life Is Short — Art Is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity. We’re interested in brief prose (short-shorts and mini-essays), but we’re also (and even more) devoted to book-length works of literary collage, built out of brief...Forward
Can you explain your role as cocurator? I would love to know more about the process of organizing, editing, and commenting on the work we see in the finished collection.
When I came along, the collection existed as a course packet David had been...Forward
The smell of ink and paper. New books arriving never gets old. Each season is a cause for a celebration. Good luck novels and anthologies and may your reception be warm.
In his short story, “Adultery,” Tim Parks writes, “One lives such a short time, yet wishes to do everything, and then to recapture everything.” Read this collection for the stories, and then read them again and again, taking great care to capture everything.
- Santi Elijah Holley, The Portland Mercury
Half meditation on the nature of the form, half textbook for the instruction of the same, the anthology mostly succeeds on both fronts, remaining highly readable and full of erudite commentary.
- Alex McCown, The AV Club
Worthy collection of examples of the flash essay and prose poems.
- Nichole L. Reber, Ploughshares
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