What the Concept Album Can Teach Short Story Writers

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Dave Patterson

Concept Albums and Connected StoriesIn the summer of 2007 on a campus in the Bread Loaf Wilderness in Ripton, Vermont, I inadvertently incited an argument between two writers.

While discussing Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker in a fiction writing workshop run by the patient and at times clairvoyant Patricia Powell she noted that Danticat’s book was a novel that could teach aspiring writers a good deal about craft.  I interjected that The Dew Breaker was actually not a novel.  The previous summer, I explained, I’d read the book with one of her colleagues in a course entitled The Contemporary American Short story.

“David Huddle,” I said, “called the text a book of connected short fiction—making the distinction that it was not a novel.”

Patricia looked at me and smiled. “Well,” she said in a soft Caribbean accent, “I’ll have to set David straight.”

Later that evening I attended a cocktail party in a nineteenth…

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