Friday, January 22, 2010
Tumble Home by Amy Hempel
Amy Hempel was the writer-in-residence at Pratt my senior year. She visited our class once, and while that in itself was not particularly momentous, the photocopied interview with her from the Paris Review that was distributed prior to the visit was quite illuminating. I underlined passages and referred to them again and again while working on my thesis. She was able to clearly explain the hallmarks of good writing that had before seemed so mysterious and somehow unteachable. So while writing style--precise, poetic, and minimalist, the stories giving the impression of being pieced together from bits of conversations and images ("Joy's designated runner, Cousin Zeke, ran to first, the ice cubes in his gin and tonic clacking like dog tags in the glass..."It's not who wins--" their coach began, and was shouted down by some of the boys, "There's first and there's forget it.")--was not a direct influence on me, her advice and insight absolutely were.