Every couple of years, a serious literary magazine will declare the return of the short story. What usually follows is a handful of supportive comment pieces in outlets like The Guardian and TheNew York Times, each typically pegged to the release of an especially exciting collection.
Before long, the media's interest begins to wane and the short story retreats to an undisclosed location where it patiently awaits its next renaissance.
At least, that's what the peddlers of the "return of the short story" narrative would have you believe.
I'm not convinced. And I doubt very much that Hold Your Fire, Chloe Wilson's debut collection of stories, represents the 179th coming of the form.
It's not that Wilson's stories aren't worthy of heralding such a momentous cultural moment, it's just that it's a flawed argument.
After all, short stories continued to be written, published and read in the years between all those so-called returns, re-emergences and renaissances.
In fact, Wilson wrote a few of them herself. The title story from this collection was first published by Granta in its Spring 2020 edition.
Likewise, I don't think the stories in Hold Your Fire emerged, as if on cue, from some parallel short story universe.
Many of them are so rooted in our reality - and unvarnished banality - it hurts. To borrow an art world reference or two, Wilson's stories are the literary equivalents of, say, a Tracey Emin painting or a Bruce Gilden picture.
Except, of course, for some of the more conceptual works of flash fiction that punctuate these pages, which could fairly be described as Daliesque.
However, it's in the longer, more traditional stories where Wilson's abilities come to the fore.
In Tongue-Tied, an anal-retentive male nurse and his PE teacher wife are shown through a series of modest bungalows by a rookie real estate agent named Priscilla.
It turns out the wife taught Priscilla at high school, and while she considers the baby-voiced bimbo pathetic, something stops her from dishing the dirt to the husband she both loves and loathes.
And it's just as well. Following a chilling encounter with the amorous former owners of a recently-foreclosed home, the narrator finds herself in a florist's shop dictating an apology from her husband.
"You're not Priscilla, by any chance?" asks the florist? "No, I wish".
Harbour sees two sickly sisters ditch their fermented food diets and embark on a gruelling expulsion regime under the supervision of one Dr Bellavit, a cultish figure who eschews deodorant, shampoo and toothpaste.
You know it's not going to end well when the cab driver who drops them off gives them his card and suggests they call him, "if you decide you've had enough".
Unsurprisingly, the gleaming health retreat promised in the brochures could more accurately be described as a concentration camp set up to prey on hypochondriacs with money to burn.
In other stories, a retired nurse steals blood bags from the clinic she works at to fertilise her enormous vegetables. A reluctant diver navigates a fraught relationship with her coach.
A young woman finds she's better able to handle conflict with her sister as a result of the SNRIs she's been prescribed.
And a bitchy, belittling wife performs a DIY faecal transplant on her husband after an incident at their son's day-care centre sees the pair end the cold war that has characterised their marriage.
While each story stands on its own, if there's a central theme coursing through Hold Your Fire, it's our physical and emotional fragility, or more accurately perhaps, the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of that fragility.
Wilson's characters are lonely, unsatisfied, gravely ill, and afflicted with various impediments and disadvantages. And yet they press on, searching for faecal donors, trying to be better parents, and dealing with sociopathic husbands.
At this point, a confession is in order. Up until fairly recently, I'd avoided short stories in favour of - well, pretty much anything. Such was my lack of interest in the form that I'd read TheNew Yorker's Table for Two column before bothering with the fiction.
I mean, why invest in The Crooked House, a story at the back of the book about a guy who's given up coffee, when The Smell of Money, a cautionary tale of China's ruthless penetration of Africa, beckons at the front?
I'm happy to report that I'm reading more short stories now than I have since my university days.
It's almost as if my reading habits have undergone a renaissance of sorts, one that Hold Your Fire has done nothing to reverse. On the contrary.