While I’ve been known to slog through long Russian novels, my favorite kind of reading lately has been short stories, or anthologies of essays. Perhaps my attention span is waning, but I think it’s because I am in awe of how an author can create a universe from nothing in only a few pages.
Amy Hempel is the best short story writer ever. Or, at least, alive. (But I’m betting on ever, or like the cool kids say, evar.) Consider the first line of her story, The Harvest:
The year I began to say vahz instead of vase, a man I barely knew nearly accidentally killed me.
Take a moment with that. For a reader to know so much about the narrator with one sentence and how much it evokes is stunning. The story is a commentary on the art of writing, which you might not guess from the first line. Now, go read the whole thing, courtesy of pif magazine.
When you’re done with that and hungry for more, check out her books, which are like boxes of expensive chocolates that demand you both devour and savor them.
The Harvest is in The Collected Works of Amy Hempel
At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom