Throughout this text, Valerie Shaw addresses two key questions: 'What are the special satisfactions afforded by reading short stories?' and 'How are these satisfactions derived from each story's literary techniques and narrative strategies?'.
She then attempts to answer these questions by drawing on stories from different periods and countries - by authors who were also great novelists, like Henry James, Flaubert, Kafka and D.H.
Lawrence; by authors who specifically dedicated themselves to the art of the short story, like Kipling, Chekhov and Katherine Mansfield; by contemporary practitioners like Angela Carter and Jorge Luis Borges; and by unfairly neglected writers like Sarah Orne Jewett and Joel Chandler Harris.