Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Dessen’


Marianne Gingher On “Long Story Short”

September 13, 2009

Long Story Short: Flash Fiction by Sixty-Five of North Carolina’s Finest Writers offers a concise, comprehensive, and compulsively readable collection of short-short stories. Concise on two counts: In total, the stories number less than 200 pages, and the longest of the stories is less than 1,700 words (the shortest is a mere 95). Comprehensive: The authors featured here make up a who’s who of writers with ties to the Old North State, including Russell Banks, Doris Betts, Will Blythe, Wendy Brenner, Orson Scott Card, Fred Chappell, Angela Davis-Gardner, Sarah Dessen, Pamela Duncan, Pam Durban, Clyde Edgerton, Philip Gerard, Gail Godwin, Randall Kenan, John Kessel, Michael Malone, Doug Marlette, Margaret Maron, Jill McCorkle, Lydia Millet, Robert Morgan, Michael Parker, Bland Simpson, Lee Smith, June Spence, Elizabeth Spencer, and Daniel Wallace, just to sample the list of contributors. And as for compulsively readable: Despite the pile of books I should have read first, as soon as Long Story Short arrived in the mail, I couldn’t resist reading at least one of the stories. Since that one was so short, I tried another. And then a third. And, as with a box of bon-bons, before I knew it….

The anthology, edited by Marianne Gingher (who also contributes a story) and published by the University of North Carolina Press, is a timely one. While Gingher points out in her introduction that short-shorts are as old as Aesop, there seems to be a growing trend toward the popularity of very short fiction in all of its forms: flash fiction, sudden fiction, microfiction, even twitter fiction and hint fiction. While many of the stories in this collection tend toward the traditional, to my mind, the book as a whole offers an array of different storytelling strategies and narrative structures, and they’re short enough that you’re able to re-read them easily to figure out how they work. Pam Durban’s “Island,” for example, struck me as so marvelous when I read it the first time that I turned around and read it again, aloud, to my wife. (And the stories are ripe for discussion too: Tara (a flash fiction writer herself) and I disagreed about whether Durban’s piece was as effective as it could be — where the heart of it was, where it might have been cut further, how it all played out.)

Today (Sunday, September 13), Gingher debuted the new collection on the closing day of the North Carolina Literary Festival, and tonight the book will be the focus of the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation’s 50th anniversary, but even if you miss those events, there are plenty more opportunities to catch readings by the contributors. (See a full list at the bottom of this post.) In advance of the NCLF, Gingher and I talked about the book via email, and I’m grateful for her time (especially in the midst of all the festival’s busy-ness!) and glad to share our interview here.
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N.C. Events: Dessen, Holmstedt & Carter

July 24, 2009

Just a quick look at what’s on tap over the next few days on the N.C. lit scene. 

First up, one of my favorite writers, Sarah Dessen, reads from her latest book, Along for the Ride, at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village on Saturday, July 25, at 11 a.m. I was just talking two days ago about Dessen’s novels with a friend who’s now reading one of her earlier books, and we both agreed in our appreciation of her skill at crafting characters and pulling us into a story. While I’ve been waylaid in my own reading of the new book, Along for the Ride was recently named one of Good Morning America‘s Picks for Teen Summer Reading. Check it out.

Also on Saturday, Kirsten Holmstedt reads discusses her new book, The Girls Come Marching Home: The Saga of Women Returning From the War  in Iraq, a follow-up to her Band of Sisters, at the Fayetteville Barnes & Noble; that event begins at 2 p.m. The New York Post recently featured the new book in its Required Reading column, and closer to home, the Wilmington Star-News published a nice profile of both the book and the author earlier this month. 

Finally, Durham’s Regulator Bookshop welcome Stephen L. Carter on Tuesday evening, July 28, to discuss his new book, Jericho’s Fall. Check out the Washington Post review here, which called the book an “odd but readable mixture of spy thriller, literary novel and haunted-house mystery” and ultimately complained that the climax was “too exciting.” Despite the review’s fine points, however, “too exciting” might very possibly be just what some readers are looking for in an action thriller this time of year.

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N.C. Events: Taylor, Southern, and Dessen & Smart Bitches On Heaving Bosoms

June 4, 2009

As some readers here may know, I’m getting married on Saturday, June 6, and will soon be flying off to sunny Ireland — well, to Ireland at least — for the next 10 days or so. That in mind, this week’s previews of upcoming events in the Triangle and Eastern North Carolina covers two weeks instead of one. But plenty to enjoy in that two weeks, that’s for sure.

First up on my recommendations is David Taylor, author of  Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America, who will be reading from and speaking about the new book on Friday, June 5, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. This book provides a truly marvelous glimpse inside the WPA Writers’ Project, not only offering profiles of often well-known writers who honed their craft within that system but also exploring how the project created a comprehensive look at the U.S. during the Depression. I had the good fortune of interviewing Taylor here earlier this year, and another fine interview can be found here. Or better yet, just go see him yourself!

On Saturday, June 6, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan will come to the Barnes and Noble at New Hope Commons in Durham with their new book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels. I’ll admit, I’m not a reader of romance novels, and the closest I’ve come to studying them was when I was assigned Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance Novel: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature back in college. But I take it on good authority that this is a great read, and heck, it looks like so much more fun than the Radway ever was! I encourage attendance at the reading with confidence.

Next Thursday, June 11, Ed Southern, executive director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, talks about his latest book, Sports in the Carolinas: From Death Valley to Tobacco Road, at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham. In addition to providing excellent leadership for the NCWN, Southern is also establishing himself as a fine authority on specific aspects of our state’s history. My interview with him on his work at the Network and on his previous book, Voices of the American Revolution in the Carolinas, is here.

And while I said above that I don’t generally read romance novels, I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of Sarah Dessen‘s books (and of Dessen herself for that matter) and a real sucker for the romantic entanglements that are often at the heart of her fiction. Dessen’s  latest novel is Along for the Ride and it arrived on my doorstep a couple of days ago with the tagline “Find yourself in love this summer.” With that wedding on the horizon, I am indeed doing that, and with a long flight ahead, I may just drop this one in my carry-on. And for those folks back in North Carolina, there are three opportunities on the horizon for you to catch Dessen’s tour: Tuesday, June 16, at Durham’s Regulator Bookshop; Thursday, June 18, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh; and next month on Saturday, July 25, at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village.

And for a complete list of upcoming events, be sure to check out the MetroBooks Calendar, which will be updated with more July events as soon as I get back.

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