Thursday, June 30, 2011

On "The Most Girl Part of You" by Amy Hempel (3185 words) *****

Here's another story from the master, one who only puts out a couple of stories a year it seems. I'm reminded a bit of a tale about Paul Bowles versus his wife Jane Bowles. Paul wrote quickly, edited quickly, churned stuff out. He wrote some fabulous stuff; he also wrote some pretty lame stuff. Jane agonized over every word, but her one novel--Two Serious Ladies--is a masterpiece in every way, rivaling the best that Paul ever came up with.

If Hemphill is part of the latter camp, I could believe it, but I can also believe that such agony gives us lines like "May I challenge you to a dance?" Fantastic.

Here, in this story from her collection At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, a young gal with a close guy friend (one might even say she has a crush, the way she claims everything about Jack is "big") watches as her friend tries to come to terms with the death, the suicide, of his sick mother. Life for Jack seems to be going on about the same as usual, but it's not usual, and we know it and so does she, down deep. The two continue to hang out, but Jack is hurting--and hiding it. And yet, the story is one of a Phoenix, one about what rises from the ashes. Read the story here at the Collagist.

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