42 pages 1 hour read

Richard Peck

A Long Way from Chicago

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1998

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Genre Context: The Short Story Cycle Format

Short story cycles, also known as story sequences or composite novels, are books made up of stand-alone stories that are nonetheless thematically connected. These types of collections are written specifically so that the individual stories may be understood differently when read separately versus when they are read as a part of the greater whole. Short story cycles differ from short story collections in that they are usually planned and center around shared settings, characters, and events, whereas a collection may include disconnected stories that do not come together to form a novel. Even the term “short story cycle” is still open to debate as to its accuracy, for the term “cycle” implies a circular dynamic in which the beginning connects thematically with the ending: a trait that is not always demonstrated in such books.

As a short story cycle, A Long Way From Chicago fits the standard definition fairly closely, for the stories share a setting (Grandma’s town), as well as some key recurring characters (Joey, Mary Alice, and Grandma, as well as other members of the town) and ideas (weaving stories and using wit to solve problems). When taken separately, each story offers unique lessons bundled in a complete

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