Being on the diminutive side, I remain partial to all things small, including my reads. Here, three of my favorite collections from 2010.
HINT FICTION (edited by Robert Swartwood; Norton) proves the adage great things come in small packages. Swartwood, who coined the term hint fiction, says a story of 25 words or less "should not be complete by standing by having a beginning, middle, and end. Instead it should be complete by standing by itself as its own little world." This small book delivers over 100 stories (culled from over 2,400 entries) written by award-winning authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, J.S. Konrath, Ha Jin, Tess Gerritsen, and James Frey, but also lesser known but equally talented writers, including Kelly Sptizer, Jane Hammons, David Erlewine, Roxanne Gay, and a host of others, including my novel writing buddy Jennifer Haddock.
Pregnancy Test (Jennifer Haddock)
A drop of pee. An unanswered prayer. The second pink line draws one childhood to an end as another begins.
Golden Years (Edith Pearlman)
She: Macular. He: Parkinsons. She pushing, he directing, they get down the ramp, across the grass, through the gate. The wheels roll riverwards.
Progress (Joe Schreiber)
After seventeen days she finally broke down and called him "Daddy."
WHet your appetite for more? Read HINT FICTION's oodles of accolades and pick up a copy for yourself.
I have traveled a lot the last few months, and the first item packed after my laptop is BEST OF THE WEB 2010 (DZANC Books; Guest Editor Kathy Fish, Series Editor Matt Bell). Almost 100 stories, poems, and essays covering a lot of writers -- Dan Chaon, Terese Svoboda, Robert Olen Butler, Claudia Emerson, J.A. Tyler -- published in some of the finest online literary journals -- BluePrint Review, >kill author, failbetter, Necessary Fiction, elimae, Wigleaf, Guernica, Brevity.
I have no favorite piece; I keep reading and rereading, enjoying as a reader, learning as a writer. Here, GLORY, by Cami Park, a talented author who died too young and too early (originally published in Staccato).
A woman's hair is her crowning glory, my grandmother always said. Brush it every night, one hundred strokes.
She also once told me she felt like she was drowning. We had been doing the dishes together in silence, her freckled hands wrist-deep in suds. I placed the plate I'd been drying in the rack and leaned over the sink on tiptoe to look out the window at the star-speckled sky. Searched for the Milky Way, scanned for the moon.
Purchase your copy from DZANC Books. Of course.
Not too long ago, I wrote nice things about Peter Selgin and he kindly sent me a copy of 179 WAYS TO SAVE A NOVEL (Writers Digest Books). Since he's read my work through DZANC's Creative Writing Sessions, I assumed he thought this craft book might salvage my own Works-In-Progress, and it just might. Divided into six sections such as Matters of Substance and Matters of Style, each page is like a meditation with a get tough message.
My favorite today is #48: The Quest for Happiness and Other Irritants: Two Plots -- Only, which pretty much distills all literary stories to two plots. Since I struggle with plot constantly, this message simplifies my writing life immensely. I already own every one of Peter Selgin's books (though he has a new one coming out early 2011), so I'm hoping this time he sends me an agent ;^) Purchase your copy at Writer's Digest Books -- pssst, they're having a SALE!
Next up, three favorite serious reads from the past year, and the three books I've slipped into my own stocking. Peace, Linda