Who Is Your Favorite Short-Story Writer?

amy hempelThere are a lot of amazing story writers–more every day, I think. What makes a short story brilliant? Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Some want to define it or find a formula; I used to be one of those. Anymore, I’ve given into my tendency to feel instead of think. Rather, my tendency to feel while thinking, and think about my feelings.

You know the Myers-Briggs test? I like to think I’m an INFTP, because when it comes to the think vs. feel questions, I always think, “Why not both?”

Reading her short stories, I get the feeling that Amy Hempel is the same way. If you haven’t read her stuff, I want you to click on this link and read “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” over at Fictionaut. I’ll wait. Continue reading

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Three Interesting Interviews

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A conversation with Lydia Millet, from Willow Springs (I might be biased here, because I was one of the interviewers, but throughout the conversation Lydia dazzled me with her wit and intelligence; if you haven’t read any of her fiction, I highly recommend you do).

I think any writer of substance is a cultural critic by nature. Almost any. I think books should have an agenda, but I don’t think you should be able to deliver a one-liner about what that agenda is … I just want to feel that it’s there, pulsing behind the bones.

An interview with Aimee Bender, from The Rumpus–an especially interesting read for writers with children, especially writers who are mothers, especially writers who are mothers who have read a good amount of Bender’s work.

Rumpus: How has being a mother of twins affected your writing routine?

Bender: So far no routine at all! But they’re very new and very little so I’m just taking a break from writing, which actually feels good. It’ll be different, though—my two-hours-in-the-morning routine can’t work like it has for a while

An interview with Amy Poehler about her memoir, Yes Please. Though the last two writers are both very funny, there’s such a difference between humor and comedy. I thought this would be a good contrast with the other two interviews. I certainly won’t posit that Poehler is an author in the same league as Bender and Millet, but she is a cultural icon in a way that the other two are not, and her book is memoir while the other two write fiction.

I’m used to writing in characters and not really writing about myself. And it was easier to share the early parts of my life rather than my own current events.

November Reading List

As the holidays approach, I find myself thinking more and more about family. It’s probably the most-written-about subject in all of literature, so compiling a list about families might be an insane venture, but I’ve got a few favorites to recommend. I probably won’t be reading much myself this month, since any free time will be sucked up by NaNoWriMo (I’m writing this post in October and pre-scheduling it; many of my November posts will be pre-written so I can reserve time for my novel), but for those of you who will have time to read, here are a few of my favorites: Continue reading

Weird and Wonderful Books to Read in October

It’s the Halloween season, with candy corn in all the stores and Hocus Pocus playing constantly on ABC Family (or whatever they changed the name to) but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to read a Halloween book. Horror isn’t for all of us, and you can only read Dracula so many times (I maxed out at three). But if you want to read something sort of eerie, a little bit creepy, or slightly strange this month, something with a little substance and no real scares, you might want to pick up one (or all) of these titles.

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

Karen Russell is one of my absolute favorite authors. This collection of short stories is probably my favorite, with women turning into silk worms, girls struggling with their feral natures, and as much sparky, sparkling prose as you could ever want.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender is so weird but also sort of incredibly normal. There’s a lot of magic in the mundane in her fictional world, and I think that’s what makes her work so special.

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

We all know Haruki Murakami is a genius, but I think his work isn’t always the most accessible. I think one way he really connects with his readers is through the use of magical realism (or whatever you want to call that phenomenon of using magic and fantasy within a realistic story–something all of the books in this list do), which gives the reader a metaphorical way of understanding his stories. Plus, giant toads and little green monsters are amusing.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

You probably heard that Kazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, which I think is awesome. He’s such a fantastic writer, and this is my favorite of his novels (though I admittedly haven’t read them all). Closer to science fiction than fantasy, this book presents the perspective of a very special young woman who was not meant to be special at all. I don’t want to give anything away, though they did make this into a movie a few years ago so you might already know the gist of it. But even if you saw the movie, read the book. It’s so totally worth it.