On Little Fiction and Book Trailers

My story "Cook New England" went up on the Little Fiction website this week, which means that Troy Palmer took the time and thought to make a trailer for it. I deeply appreciated it, as I did Troy's and editor Beth Gilstrap's help with getting the story ready for prime time. And I've been enjoying paging through the archives of Little Fiction's story trailers—if there's another journal that makes them this regularly, I haven't yet discovered them. 

I'm generally interested to see how book trailers evolve as a form—it seems like we've already seen them swing from earnest to ironic and back several times. It's hard to parse how to not just summarize but tease, maybe even sell, a literary product in a visual medium. (It's hard sometimes to even admit to thinking of literature as a "product," which we have to do in order to give it a trailer.) Most of the book trailers that stick in my mind do so for their awkwardness—it's often particularly odd when they depict events or characters from the book itself; I feel like my mental images as a reader are being overwritten by a "film adaptation" before I've even had a chance to crack the book. Or else I remember trailers for their metacommentary on the author's and/or publisher's discomfort with the fact that they're making one at all—most notably, of course, Gary Shteyngart's several parodic celebrity-cameo montages. However awkward the early stages of their existence, I think it's always safe to bet on new technology and new media forms, and I'm looking forward to seeing how book trailers evolve.

The way Little Fiction handles trailers—elegant, kinetic, consistent—strikes me with something I can't believe I hadn't thought of before: book trailers are much better suited to short stories than they are to novels. A story is so much more easily encapsulated—in a pull-quote, an image, a musical phrase; it's so much more realistic to "tease" a short story in a singular moment. Take a few minutes as I did to click through Little Fiction's trailer archives, and if one or several (or many) grab you, check out the stories. I'm having a blast.