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What kind of face lift? Personally there are still plenty of short story magazines I enjoy reading. And I don't just read them to pick up market tips either. Sure, some stories aren't so hot, for many of the reasons King describes. But I'm not sure this is a problem with the short story venues, or if it's a problem with the kind of submissions they're receiving, or if it's just a problem with fiction in general (i.e., not all of it can be good, and not all of it can appeal to a particular reader, so at best you get a few stories that you love, a lot of stories that are OK, and a few you dislike).If the short story can only be found in the floor-level magazines or anthologies nobody looks for, it sounds to me like short-story venues need a face lift.
I believe the next 30-40 years will be explosive for literature. Partly because I believe in the mystical 88-year cycle, partly because there's no place to go really but up, and partly because of the internet.
Partly because Hollywood makes shit now and quality lies in a good book.
I have a theory - mostly spawned from the film and tv industry, but I suspect at least partially applicable to this situation as well - that agents are the spawn of satan. I could be overly cynical, but think about this.... Agents who are paid as a percentage of the sale naturally want to get the most money for the sale that they can.
But that's just the problem. Short stories aren't for everyone. A lot of people don't 'get' them. In a sense it's a more artistic art form than the novel because it takes incredible skill to pen a truly good story. Have your average person read Salinger's "A Perfect Day for Bananafish", Raymond Carver's "Night School" or Franz Kafka' "A Hunger Artist". These are all great stories, but they are not for everyone. Or rather, they are not understood or read by everyone. Not everyone understands what T.S. Eliot called the objective correlative.Of course, people will always flock to good writing. I still think it's only a matter of time before the right person or people come along and construct the short story in a way that can be enjoyed by everyone in this modern age.
This disease infects every aspect of our culture, not just media. I heard someone refer to it once as tickle-me-Elmo syndrome. That is, all companies are interested in is finding that one thing that will be the must-have Christmas gift or the summer blockbuster or the next Brittany Spears or the next Harry Potter.
Merely being profitable isn't good enough anymore. It has to be super duper fill-the-stadium-with-fans huge. That usually means pandering to the lowest common denominator, and that usually means producing crap.
While he's not an "authority" per se I think that, having grown up in a time where the short story was prevalent (50s through 70s) and being inspired to write his own and seeing a majority of them published, that he may be allowed an opinion on the subject. Just because his actual prose rambles and is not all that great doesn't exclude him from being able to air his thoughts.I don't see what makes Steven King a particular authority on the state of American literature
Who would you prefer? Oprah?