There 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 “Who Is Your Favorite Short-Story Writer?”
These are three very different stories, both in the sense that they are not your everyday reads and that they are very different from each other. All smart, all sharp, all at least a little bit strange–all favorites.
So: a link and a snippet for each.
“Sing a Song of Sixpence” by Samuel Ligon
This was after the pie was opened, after the king had turned to the bottle, and the queen to one of her young lovers. It was a pattern with them, part of the reason for all the laundry — the king soiling his robes and pantaloons, the queen binging and purging and fornicating all over the castle. They were horrible people, the king and queen.
“Twin Study” by Stacey Richter
Of course, we were identical genetically; what’s more, we shared a placenta; but inside, in our brains, souls, and hearts, we weren’t the same. This became apparent slowly, even though I knew what Samantha was going to say before she said it, and I knew which boys she’d like before she met them, and we always got up at the same time in the night to pee, among other uncanny similarities.
“Girl and Giraffe” by Lydia Millet
They had cats instead of children—George had raised scores of lions while Joy had moved on from lions to cheetahs to leopards—and lions and leopards could not cohabit, so George and Joy also lived apart.
There are billions of short stories out there, and probably millions of good ones. Thousands of really good ones. I’ve read so many–both published and in the slush pile for Willow Springs–but when I think about short stories, there’s one that always comes to mind. It’s not a classic like “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” or “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (which are both great). It’s not particularly famous, nor is its author. In fact, if I hadn’t worked at Willow Springs, I might never have known it existed. It’s called “The Land of Pain” and it was published in Willow Springs 56.
It used to be available on their website, but I guess it’s been taken down. If you can get your hands on a copy, read it. In the mean time, read another of my favorites by Stacey Richter, “The Cavemen in the Hedges.”
And Stacey, if you’re out there, I hope you’re writing. Because I want to read it.
Check out my recommendation of Stacey Richter’s Twin Study, up now at The Lit Pub!