Saturday, March 13, 2010

On "Twenty Questions" by Jennifer Howard (114 words) *****

I first came across this story on a workshop site and loved it--a story told completely in questions. It's not easy. I've often started off writing a piece entirely in questions. It's a great way to free the mind, because you know, at heart, the story can't stay all questions, so you don't care about putting crazy stuff down. But try actually writing a story in questions--keeping it that way--that is another task, one that I have never been able to complete. Howard, however, manages to convey so much here--we don't need the answers. Read the story here at the Collagist, and then read the other two shorts as well ("It's You" is a great little flash piece itself that almost seems an answer to these questions.)


JHoward said...

Hi--Matt Bell, the editor of the Collagist, spotted this and let me know about it. I'm thrilled you liked the story enough to write about it here. Thank you.

TN-Tanuki said...

Have either of you read Padgett Powell's latest book The Interogative Mood? It's a short book of nothing but questions. Is it a novel or a story? Don't know about that, but it is a fascinating read.

Short Story Reader said...

Jennifer--My pleasure to have read your story. It truly is one of my favorite flashes to come across, especially because you managed to pull something off I haven't been able to (and believe me, I've tried).

TN--Yes, I've heard of Powell's book. I heard him read a bit from it on NPR. It sounds interesting, but it doesn't sound like a novel or a story. That's part of what I like about the Howard piece, because it still manages to be a story--not just an interesting piece of prose. Of course, I respect Powell for extending the job over an entire book, and if it's a fun read, who cares in the end whether it's formally a novel or story or just great writing?