The Irish excel at the cats of literary form…
From The Guardian:
Short stories seldom creak, the way novels sometimes creak; they are allowed to be easy and deft. Some writers say that the short story is too “easy” to matter much, some say it is the most difficult form of all. But if the argument is about ease as opposed to difficulty, then surely we should not under value ease. And though it may be easy to write something that looks like a short story (for being not long), it is very hard to write a good one – or to be blessed by a good one – so many of the ones we read are fakes.
The great Irish short story writer Frank O’Connor thought it a pure form, “motivated by its own necessities rather than by our convenience”. I am not sure whether the novel is written for our convenience, but it is probably written for our satisfaction. That is what readers complain about with short stories, that they are not “satisfying”. They are the cats of literary form; beautiful, but a little too self-contained for some readers’ taste. Short stories are, however, satisfying to write, because they are such achieved things. They become themselves even as you write them: they end once they have attained their natural state.
Or some of them do. Others keep going. Others discard the first available meaning for a later, more interesting conclusion. In the interests of truth, some writers resist, backpedal, downplay, switch tacks, come back around a different way. Poe’s famous unity of impulse is all very well, but if you know what the impulse is already, then it will surely die when you sit down at the desk.