There are aspects of Celeste Ng’s “What Passes Over” that mirror those in “The Cure”. A father recently dead. A mother grieving in unusual ways. But there the stories split into two completely different directions. I’m always interested to see how authors approach similar issues or situations. In “What Passes Over”, Ng tunnels far into the process of grief and healing. When I first read this story, the images stayed with me for days. The breaking of unused game boards, the paper doll clothes, the description of ashes turning into a log, and then into a tree. But what really moved me and what still moves me, every time I read the story (and I go over a story, many, many times before it finds its way to you, dear reader) is the moment (spoiler alert) when Jenna sees her mom’s car after leaving the dance, and the simple description: “The passenger side door is unlocked.” Ng does more in that one line than a mountain of lengthy descriptive paragraphs. It’s full of emotion, and completely on target, so that the reader feels relief, right alongside Jenna’s character. You can almost sense the story physically turn in that moment, and begin to slide toward its conclusion. I think it’s a real accomplishment to create a reaction like this, just from putting the right combination of words on the page.
One Story author Margo Rabb has just published a great novel, Cures for Heartbreak. Michael Chabon says “Cures for Heartbreak is a sad, funny, smart, endlessly poignant novel. Reading it made me feel grateful for my life, for my family, and above all for the world that brings us gifts like the gift of Margo Rabb.” To find out more, visit: www.margorabb.com.
Sorry for the belated update to last Friday’s One Story Reading Series and Cocktail Hour, but I’ve finally got the photos up here.
Anna treated us to a new story about a supplanted family having trouble with mischevious neighborhood kids–we’ll make sure to update everyone when it can be found in written form.
Special thanks to Managing Editor Pei-Ling, who stepped in and emcee’d the pants off the event. We’ll be back on March 9 for a reading with Margo Rabb.
Ever wish you could hire your own private editor to finish off that manuscript? Now you can. Janet Steen (Media Bistro), Rebecca Wolff (Fence) and Joanna Yas (Open City)have started a new business that provides everything from copyediting, proofing, one on one critiques, and career counseling. Check them out at: www.editrixie.com.
I’ve been a fan of Owen King’s for a long time. I enjoyed his book, We’re All in This Together, and I’m glad that we’ve now been able to publish him in One Story. What I like most about “The Cure” is that it is full of surprises. At the outset, I’m drawn in by the sharpness of the mother’s voice. She’s an amazing character, and seems to be pricking Abe towards sexual adulthood throughout the story. But then everything shifts, and ends up blossoming into an unusual love story. Dorothy Ernst hovers around the beginning of the story and then steps forward and claims it, the same way she claims Abe’s heart. I think the decline of Abe’s mother works perfectly with the incline of Abe’s relationship with Dorothy. In the end, the two cross and complement each other. I guess it doesn’t hurt that I was a huge fan of The Cure in high school. Anyone else see the �Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ tour in 1987? One of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
There’s an interesting discussion on Salon.com about MFA programs, stemming from a current student who is regretting her decision to go:
“I found out that my dream locale wasn’t so dreamy. I’m not sure that I deserve to be here. I can’t see that my work is getting any better. I feel like my classmates are all better writers than I am and it doesn’t help that most of them have odious personalities. I have continued to write, which in my mind is better than giving up, but I find myself constantly thinking I’m crap and wondering if I should give up this ghost.”
Cary Tennis posts a great response:
“…what I learned in my trek from brilliant insufferable little grad school shit to person with enough humility to sit quietly in a room with dogs — and patiently let them nose my hands as I try to work the keyboard — is that writing is not about face. It is about soul. It is a tool for becoming who you are.”
Go here to read entire column. And let us know what you think.