Monday, April 2, 2012

Steven Millhauser on a Form 'Second to No Other'

© Beowulf Sheehan
Steven Millhauser's acceptance speech was eloquent and very much in keeping with our aim of supporting the short story form, so, with his permission, we thought we'd share his words. 

"My strong thanks for this honor. I particularly want to thank Larry Dark and Julie Lindsey for selecting the three final collections, and Sherman Alexie, Breon Mitchell, and Louise Steinman for choosing We Others. In addition, I wish to thank my editor, Robin Desser, who fought for the idea for a New and Selected Stories against my skeptical protest – I feared that such a book could only be a tombstone – and my agent, Amanda Urban, who has been unfailingly supportive for more than twenty-five years and whom I would trust with anything.

"Most American writers begin with the short story and then become novelists – for them, the short story is a kind of apprenticeship. My own history is backward: I began as a novelist and later turned to the short story. Exactly why this is so remains mysterious even to me. But the crucial thing is that I didn’t turn to the story as a form of preparation for something larger or more important – on the contrary, it’s as if the novel were a kind of preparation for the rigorous pleasures of the shorter form. For me, the shortness of a great story is part of its greatness. In any case, I love and revere this form of writing, and hold it second to no other form; and I’m grateful, deeply grateful, that the short story should be recognized on an occasion such as this. Thank you."