Recently, a colleague and I were headed to a department party for a colleague’s retirement. We were quite proud of ourselves for timing our public transit such that we’d arrive at the party exactly on time to be fashionably late, that is, until we realized that we’d been viewing my phone map of the walk from the metro station upside down, and walked ten minutes in the wrong direction, meaning we’d get to the party twenty minutes later than we’d intended. Upon noting this, we cheerfully declared that instead of being fashionably late, we’d be glamorously late, and set about walking in the other direction. This is why it is nice to have cheerful colleagues, and also to work in a literature department, so that if you arrive an hour late to a cocktail party, people are still drinking cocktails, and you haven’t missed any of the important speeches/food/cake.
I say all this to say that literary types have declared May to be short story month, and as a person who writes and reads and loves short stories, I intended to join the conversation much earlier, but I have been busy having a torrid love affair with my novel, and also taking a deep breath after a lovely but hectic year, and also trying not to beat myself up over taking a deep breath, and so here it is six days from the end of May and I have yet to say anything about short stories, or even properly thank the people who’ve said nice things about mine.
So: some lovely people have used Short Story Month as an occasion to consider some of my work. Over at the Emerging Writers Network blog, Dan Wickett wrote about my story The King of a Vast Empire, and at Andrew’s Book Club, Dylan Landis wrote about Virgins. Though not formally part of short story month, I’d be remiss here if I didn’t also thank Roxane Gay for her smart considerations of Harvest and Robert E. Lee is Dead over at Vouched Books a few months ago.
In the spirit of short story month, I’d like to recommend a few short stories that I’ve read recently, most of which I’ve been lucky enough to get to teach this year: Lauren Groff’s Lucky Chow Fun, which is smart and haunting and so sharp on the sentence level, Jennine Capo Crucet’s How to Leave Hialeah, well-deservedly reprinted in this year’s O Henry anthology, and such a smart and moving depiction of the ways we leave the places we’re from and the ways we never can, that I recently butted into some people’s conversation at a party to tell them they had to read it, Suzanne Rivecca’s None of the Above, which somehow eloquently captures on both the intimate and the grand scale that sense of helplessness a person feels when the right thing to do is never quite right enough, and an older favorite, Edward P. Jones’ The First Day, which unravels me every time I return to it.
I’ve just gotten my hands on Amy Bloom’s Where the God of Love Hangs Out, and can’t wait to curl up with it.
Happy Short Story Month!