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Alice Munro
Astral Weeks: Ted Chiang's mental travelers
Astral Weeks: Ted Chiang's mental travelers

Not a short story, not quite a novella — wasn't that a Britney Spears song? — the oxymoronic long short story is an underemployed literary form. (For argument's sake, let's say the long short story ranges from 30 to 60 pages.) F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (1922) is a perfect example of the length's virtues: the story, covering the whole of a character's life, is ample enough to be divided into chapters, yet the execution retains an antic swiftness that lofts the bizarre premise. Contemporary practitioners who thrive at this length include Alice Munro, Ethan Canin and the underread Rachel Ingalls. To this list...

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