On Wednesday, February 22, 2012, Selected Shorts will be hosting a special evening at Symphony Space in New York City, celebrating One Story magazine’s 10th anniversary. Come join top actors reading selections from issues of One Story, introduced by co-founders Maribeth Batcha and Hannah Tinti, as well as One Story authors Tom Barbash, L. Annette Binder, Seth Fried and Jim Shepard.
*All ticket holders will receive a special advance copy of Jim Shepard’s new story, “The World to Come.”
*UPDATE! ACTORS reading will be Tom Cavanagh (Royal Pains, Ed), Colby Minifie (Glee, Close Up Space), Joe Morton (The Good Wife, Terminator 2), and Santino Fontana (Billy Elliott, Sunday in the Park with George).
One Story friends & subscribers are being offered $15 tickets (normally $27). Just use thepromo code: ONE when purchasing your advance tickets.Tickets bought at the door will not receive this discount!
I often tell students struggling with balance to think of their writing as a physical object. Where the narration slows for an emotional beat, where it speeds the action, where it stops for a back flash or sketches out a character—each of these moments affect the overall shape of a story. In our new issue, “Open Season,” the very words on the page begin to take form and shudder to life. And then: they are hunted. What does the word “Kentucky” smell like? How does the word “silicone” feel as it is gutted with a knife? Paul Griner will tell you. In this extraordinary and imaginative tale, a hunter is on a quest for the perfect word. Even as the words grow scarce and harder to find, he is keenly aware of their strength and power. Be sure to read Paul Griner’s Q&A to find out how he created this enchantingly surreal world. I first read “Open Season” on a train, and immediately began to picture track, wheels, engine—their silver color, their weight in my hands. Even now, I find myself looking for hidden words, and on each subsequent read of “Open Season” I fall more deeply under its spell.
Will Allison, our new contributing editor, brought “Bad Return” to the table at One Story and took it through the editorial process. We’re thrilled that he has come on board, and also thrilled to be running a piece by Aimee Bender, a writer we’ve all admired for years. Here is Will to introduce this beautiful and mysterious tale–I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did. -HT
About halfway through the story featured in our new issue, Aimee Bender’s “Bad Return,” things start to get very strange. One minute, the protagonist, Claire, is sort of taking part in a sort-of antiwar rally. The next minute, she’s watching a hundred college coeds rolling naked and having sex in the dirt while a charlatan steals their wallets. And then things really start to get strange.
I must confess, a lot of surreal stories don’t do much for me. When the rules of a fictional world go willy-nilly, it’s like tennis without a net, or listening to someone else’s dream. “Tell a dream,” the story writer Lee K. Abbott once warned me, “lose a reader.”
But Aimee didn’t lose me, not even for a second. I think one of the (many) reasons I enjoyed “Bad Return” so much is that the story never feels surrealistic simply for the sake of surrealism. Rather, Aimee’s surrealism always serves character. The strange things that happen to Claire happen to her precisely because of who she is, the choices she makes, the actions she takes, and they have a profound impact on the story’s outcome. It doesn’t hurt that the story’s stranger scenes are also quite unnerving and suspenseful.
To read more about “Bad Return”—including Aimee’s thoughts on her own literary strangeness—please check out our Q&A with the author.