Saturday, June 11, 2005

Short on words, long on joy

Living in a big box with lots of people nearby, most of whom you never see, isn't always a great thing, but it has its perks, especially when there are common spaces and people move out or clean their apartments. What this sometimes produces is a pile of free books and magazines in the basement laundry room, ripe (although a bit dusty) for the picking. Someone must be or must have been as much of a fan of short stories as I am, because they left a stack of fairly recent anthologies there, and I snapped them up. Garisson Keillor was the guest editor for The Best American Short Stories 1998, and wrote a great Introduction. In it, he explains how he read dozens of new stories with the name of the author missing, and chose ones "judged simply by whether they pulled me through to the end and with what force and pleasure and surprise." I've read two of the stories so far, and both had a similar effect on me: "Body Language" by Diane Schoemperlen and "Appetites" by Kathryn Chetkovich. I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

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