Literary glimmers: Spring brings two new story collections from masters of the form--one new and one well-established
LJ Reviews 2018 October #2
Winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story and the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction, among other honors, Hempel is a past master of short fiction offering her first new collection in over ten years. Among her characters here are a volunteer lovingly tending to dogs that are about to be euthanized, a wife agonizing over her husband's affair with a glamorous older woman, and a woman examining her decision to give up her child for adoption decades ago. Not to be missed by short story fans—and fiction lovers generally.Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
PW Reviews 2018 November #4
Short story virtuoso Hempel's first collection since 2006 consists of 15 characteristically bold, disconcerting, knockout stories. The title story, which fits on a single page, offers no plot, names, dates, or setting—just snippets of dialogue, a proverb, and a gesture to capture a moment of personal connection. "The Quiet Car," in two pages, shows a moment of disconnection signaling the end of a relationship. A volunteer who relates better to dogs than people narrates "A Full-Service Animal Shelter," an 11-page rant/lament about working with dogs on the "euth" list. In "Chicane," a woman longs for closure when she meets the French actor who once seduced her suicidal aunt. In "Greed," a woman seeks payback as she tracks the older woman with whom her husband is having an affair. The volume ends with the remarkable 62-page "Cloudland," a visually rich, heart-wrenching portrait of a Florida caregiver haunted by thoughts of the baby girl she gave up for adoption at a Maine maternity home years ago. In stories that can be funny, brutal, poetic, blunt, elusive, or all of the above, this accomplished collection highlights Hempel's signature style with its condensed prose, quirky narrators, and touching, disturbing, transcendent moments. (Mar.)Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.