Tuesday, June 2, 2009

You Should Read Amy Hempel

Here's why:
Sister has her eye on the fellow from the post office. When you buy a sheet of stamps from him, he rubs the gooey side of the sheet against his hair. He says that the oil from human hair will keep the stamps from sticking to one another in your purse. It’s a handy tip, and a gesture you want to remember when you go to lick a stamp.

The narrator of Tumble Home, speaking of her mother:
Two slips of the tongue: I said to Chatty, “In all important ways, I believe I am her evil,” instead of “equal.” And when Chatty voiced an opinion, I added, “I feel the shame.”

Or this:
The truth is, the beach is like excess weight. If we lost it, what would the excuse be then?
-Tonight is a Favor to Holly
I cherish quotes from books when they hit me right, when the language sings or the craft is sharp. Hempel's simple, brilliant elegance would require me to transpose entire stories.

If you care about reading at all, buy The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel immediately.

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