Katherine J Barrett is a Canadian writer living in Nova Scotia with her husband and three sons. She holds a Masters degree in Microbiology and perhaps the world's only combined PhD in Botany and Ethics.
In addition to academic writing, Katherine has published essays, fiction and creative non-fiction, about such diverse topics as motherhood, women's issues and the environment.
As a pre-teen in the 1970s, I loved Two Minute Mysteries, a collection of single-page stories where I played detective. The challenge and the creative mini-plots were addictive. I could read one or two before school, digest another three or four after dinner. They were as satisfying and complete as bologna and French's.
Thirty-five years later, Two Minute Mysteries remains in print, and my short story books fill a shelf.
In 2009, Alice Munro won the International Man Booker Prize for her lifetime contribution to literature, thereby nudging the short story into the limelight. Yet I've seen more than one short story collection (Munro's included) passed over by book clubs. Too cryptic, they say, too hard to get into, too, well, short. Readers seem polarised. Some love short stories, some leave them on the bookstore shelf.
These days I'll choose Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri or Lorrie Moore over a mystery, but I still love short fiction in much the same way I love good photography. A single moment exquisitely rendered evokes so much.
An excerpt from one of Katherine's short Stories
The house had lain vacant since spring and the two lollipop trees on the patio were sucked dry by the summer wind. Lollipop trees. That's what Jeremy would have called them, globes of green on a stick except these had whithered to brown and she'd soon wrench them from the pots and heave them over the garden wall. No idle feat on her own for the wall stood eight feet high and the wind lashed.