Issue #212: When in the Dordogne by Lily King

212-cover “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”
I often quote this Kurt Vonnegut line to my students. It’s great advice for writers trying to create compelling fiction on the page. But as a reader, I sometimes find it hard to keep turning the pages as horrible events are heaped onto my favorite characters. I want them to have happy endings instead. This contradiction got me thinking about happiness as a literary device. It’s just as layered and complex as anger or hate, but authors often avoid it in their work. Why? I wondered. So I asked around. The truth of the matter seems to be this: happiness is really, really, really hard to pull off—in life, and in literature. Luckily, in our new issue, “When in the Dordogne,” we’re in the talented hands of author Lily King. Set over one magical summer, the story begins as a lonely boy is left in the care of two house-sitting college students. These young men are bristling with energy and joie-de-vivre, and in between raiding the fridge and cannonballing into the pool, they teach our boy lessons about friendship and love and finding joy that he carries with him for the rest of his life. Happiness is rare, and wonderful. When it comes, we must grab it with both hands. So read more about Lily King in her Q&A with us, and hold tight onto “When in the Dordogne.”

Issue #211: The Elephant’s Foot by Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes

211-coverGrowing up, I loved to read classic horror tales, like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs. There was something electric about the writing in those stories that shocked and disturbed, while also revealing dark, mysterious truths about human nature. A similar sense of touching a live wire came through the first time I picked up our new issue, Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes’s “The Elephant’s Foot.” Set in a Catholic School in the 1960s, this captivating story focuses on four young girls pushing the boundaries of their friendship and their imaginations after a mysterious object (an elephant’s foot!) enters their lives. Everything about the foot is extraordinary—from the wild stories about its origins to the way it haunts, then alters, each of the girls. Read Gabrielle’s Q&A with us to find out more about the inspiration behind this chilling tale, which arrives just in time for Halloween.

Issue #210: That Summer, ’53
by Victoria Redel

210-coverI’m writing this in the final moments of summer, which always feel both relaxing and fraught. I spend every minute I can outdoors, enjoying the last of the good weather, and at the same time, I wonder at how fast the days have gone by. Luckily, I have Victoria Redel’s remarkable story, “That Summer, ’53,” to help me remember the smell of BBQ cooking, the cool joy of jumping into a cold lake, and the lazy stretch of a summer night with friends, sipping drinks and watching the sun filter pink and orange through the trees. Set in 1953, this bucolic lakeside life is the American dream for Serge Solta and his young Russian family, their own little piece of Shangri-La. But things are more complicated than they seem in Serge’s work life and his marriage. The McCarthy hearings and the Rosenberg executions are broadcasting through everyone’s TV sets, and soon Serge finds himself caught between two worlds, muffling his misgivings with Seabreeze cocktails and the rhythm of Pérez Prado’s “Mambo Number Five” while trying to keep Shangri-La from slipping through his fingers. Check out Victoria Redel’s Q&A with us to hear the family history behind this sharply-turned tale. Then it’s time to get out your vintage cocktail shaker, fix yourself a Gin-and-It, open the pages of “That Summer, ’53,” and enjoy a literary Indian summer.

Issue #209: Things I Know to Be True by Kendra Fortmeyer

209-coverIn the 1960s my mother worked as a librarian in Brookline, Massachusetts. She still talks about how the building was a lifeline to the community there–not only for students and families but also for the elderly, the unemployed, the lost and the dispossessed. At libraries, people who can’t afford an education (or even a newspaper) have access to books from around the world. At the very least they can find quiet and shelter until the stacks close at night. Our new issue, “Things I Know to Be True” by Kendra Fortmeyer, explores the library as refuge through the unique voice of Charlie Harrison, a Vietnam vet struggling to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Charlie uses books to escape the visions in his head, but when an incident gets him banned from his local library, he must find a way to build his own stories, and eventually face the past he has been hiding from. In Kendra’s Q&A, she discusses the challenges of creating a point of view like Charlie’s, and how libraries have played a role in her own past (and future—as she is now in library school!). “Things I Know to Be True” is an important story about trauma, mental illness, family, and the power of words. I hope it will inspire some of you to dust off your old library cards. There is a whole world waiting at your local branch, and with any luck, a friendly librarian, who can put the right book into your hands.

Issue #207: Safety
by Lydia Fitzpatrick

cover_207One of my favorite school memories involves a giant parachute. Once a month, our gym teacher would unroll the colorful fabric. My class would stretch across the floor and play games, raising it up and down, catching the air. There was something magical about that moment, when we were all under the parachute together, and I remembered it vividly when I first read our new issue, “Safety” by Lydia Fitzpatrick. This finely-wrought tale explores a difficult subject: school shootings. The material might seem a bit daunting to some readers, but I will say now that if you do not open this story, you will be missing out on an astonishing accomplishment of suspense and point of view, that somehow turns a deplorable situation into a moment of courage, faith, hope and connection. Check out Lydia’s Q&A with us about how she explored her own fears while writing this compelling story. And when you’ve finished, you might find yourself thinking of your old gym teacher who always made you run extra laps, and the thrill of lifting a parachute over your head with the rest of your class. All those tiny hands making something enormous happen, with material strong enough to save lives, and still thin enough to let the light shine through.

Issue #206: Bursk’s Cutting Board by Scott Cheshire

issue206Nothing taught me more about the inner lives and desires of people than waiting tables. From the maniac chefs in the kitchen, to the customers demanding substitutions, to the bartenders passing around kamikaze shots, a restaurant is full of drama and bursting with energy. At the center of it all, of course, is the food that is being served. The pleasure of eating and the awakening of the senses. But what happens when a bite loses its taste? When a man whose entire life has been focused on cooking finds himself the one being cooked for? This is the dilemma in our new issue, “Bursk’s Cutting Board” by Scott Cheshire. As the narrator awaits what could be his final meal, he reminisces on his past and his marriage, sifting through his memories as the smell of his wife’s cooking winds through their apartment to the bedroom (now sickroom). Bursk has lost his appetite, and though he hides this from his wife, this loss intertwines with all his other regrets and fears. He worries: was he a good husband? He worries: what will happen when I am gone? In the end Bursk connects it all–his past, present and future—in a rousing speech that clutches at joy and salutes his hopes and dreams. I hope you’ll read Scott Cheshire’s Q&A with us on how he wrote this compelling and moving story, and also this interview where Scott discusses publishing his celebrated debut novel, High as the Horses’ Bridles, and what it’s like to be a One Story Literary Debutante. Until then, let’s all raise a glass to first books, and to great meals, and to the smell of garlic lingering on our fingers.

One Story Debutante Ball 2015: The Pictures!

Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady

Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady

Thanks to everyone who came out to our Literary Debutante Ball in Brooklyn on May 15th. We heard inspiring speeches by Pulitzer Prize winner Gregory Pardlo and Mentors of the Year Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady, ate delicious food, mingled with publishers, editors, readers and writers, toasted with beer from Brooklyn Brewery and cocktails from Tito’s Vodka, and danced the night away with the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn and DJ Julie Shore of the Will Butler Band. Most important, we celebrated the first books of One Story’s 2015 Literary Debutantes: Mia Alvar, In the Country (Knopf), Matthew Baker, If You Find This (Little Brown), Austin Bunn, The Brink (Harper Perennial), Scott Cheshire, High as the Horses’ Bridles (Henry Holt), Diane Cook, Man V. Nature (Harper), Katie Coyle, Vivian Apple at the End of the World (HMH Books), Andrew Roe, The Miracle Girl (Algonquin), Matt Sumell, Making Nice (Henry Holt), Ted Thompson, The Land of Steady Habits (Little Brown), and Anne Valente, By Light We Knew Our Names (Dzanc). Here’s some pictures to remember that special night. Enjoy!

The lineup for our 2015 Literary Debutante Ball!

There's Got to be a Morning After (640x427)Friends! Writers! Countrymen! The One Story Literary Debutante Ball will take place next Friday, May 15th at Roulette in Brooklyn. Each year we sell out of tickets. We’re now a week out and closing fast–it’s time to get yours, today! You don’t want to miss the literary event of the season. There will be delicious food, amazing music, wine, beer and cocktails, along with readers, writers, publishers and editors celebrating the magic of literary friendship together. The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the One Story Mentor of the Year award, and the formal announcement of our 2015 Literary Debutantes–One Story authors who have published their first books in the past year, each escorted by another writer or editor who has been a mentor for them. There will be:

    • Cocktails by Tito’s Vodka
    • Beer from Brooklyn Brewery
    • Music by The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn
    • DJ Julie Shore of the Will Butler Band
    • Mentors of the Year Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady (co-founders of Cave Canem), introduced by Gregory Pardlo, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize!
    • And our 2015 Literary Debutantes:
      • Mia Alvar–escorted by Jaime Manrique
      • Matthew Baker–escorted by Bethany Strout
      • Austin Bunn–escorted by Emily Cunningham
      • Scott Cheshire–escorted by Sarah Bowlin
      • Diane Cook–escorted by Rebecca Curtis
      • Katie Coyle–escorted by Allison Amend
      • Andrew Roe–escorted by Michelle Brower & Andra Miller
      • Matt Sumell–escorted by Nicole Aragi
      • Ted Thompson–escorted by Darin Strauss
      • Anne Valente–escorted by Seth Fried

We can’t wait to see all of your shining faces! Not sure what to wear? Check out these pictures from last year–dress is Brooklyn formal, which means everything from tuxedos to tuxedo t-shirts.

All funds raised help keep the doors of One Story open, and aid our mission to celebrate the art of the short story and support the writers who write them. So get out your sequined Chuck Taylors, and get ready to hit the dance floor! We’ll see you on Friday, May 15th!

One Story issue #200, “A Party for the Colonel” by F. T. Kola shortlisted for The Caine Prize for African Writing!

2015_KolaWe are thrilled to announce that One Story’s 200th issue, “A Party for the Colonel” by F. T. Kola has been shortlisted for the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing. “A Party for the Colonel” was Kola’s debut publication. Each shortlisted writer receives £500 and the winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, England on Monday, July 6th. Two previous One Story authors have been awarded the Caine Prize in their careers: Binyavanga Wainaina and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We are so thrilled for F.T. Kola, and will be keeping our fingers crossed for her until the winner is decided!.

Jim Shepard on Book Tour!

Jim_ShepardJim Shepard is a One Story author, Sirenland teacher, National Book Award Finalist, winner of the Story Prize, and now, he has a new book out, The Book of Aaron, and is going on tour! In a starred review, Kirkus called The Book of Aaron “Understated and devastating. . . . an exhaustively researched, pitch-perfect novel exploring the moral ambiguities of survival [in which] ordinary people reveal dimensions that are extraordinarily cruel or kind.” And Roddy Doyle said: “Jim Shepard has written some of the best books I’ve read and The Book of Aron is his best.” Now’s your chance to see this incredible storyteller in person. Here’s the list of where and when he’ll be heading this May/June:

Odyssey Books — SOUTH HADLEY, MA
Reading with Robin McLean
Thursday, May 14

Harvard Bookstore — CAMBRIDGE, MA
Reading/Signing/Q+A
Friday, May 15

Newtonville Books — NEWTON, MA
In Conversation w/ Amy Hempel
Saturday, May 16

Peck’s Plate (with Greenlight Bookstore) — BROOKLYN, NY
Dinner with Jim Shepard
Sunday, May 17

Franklin Park Reading Series (with Electric Literature) — BROOKLYN, NY
Monday, May 18

Dallas Museum of Art — DALLAS,TX
Anthony Doerr and Jim Shepard: Compassion and Catastrophe
Tuesday, May 19

Brazos Bookstore — HOUSTON, TX
Reading/Signing/Q+A
Wednesday, May 20

Community Bookstore (with Brooklyn Public Library) — BROOKLYN, NY
In Conversation with Joshua Ferris
Thursday, May 21

3S Artspace (with RiverRun Bookstore) — PORTSMOUTH, NH
A Conversation with Jim Shepard
Friday, May 22

The Free Library of Philadelphia — PHILADELPHIA, PA
In Conversation with Daniel Torday
Thursday, May 28

Politics And Prose — WASHINGTON, DC
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Tuesday, June 2

Books & Books — MIAMI, FL
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Wednesday, June 3

McNally Jackson — NEW YORK, NY
In Conversation with Gary Fisketjon
Thursday, June 4

Bay Area Book Festival — SAN FRANCISCO, CA
In Conversation with Ron Hansen
Sunday, June 7

Vroman’s Bookstore — LOS ANGELES, CA
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Thursday, June 11

Powell’s Books — PORTLAND, OR
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Friday, June 12

Copperfield’s — SANTA ROSA, CA
Afternoon Literary Lunch
Saturday, June 13

The Booksmith — SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Saturday, June 13

Book Passage — CORTE MADERA, CA
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Sunday, June 14

Kepler’s — MENLO PARK, CA
Reading/Q+A/Signing with Tobias Wolff
Monday, June 15

Village Books — BELLINGHAM, WA
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Tuesday, June 16
Elliott Bay Book Company ( with Seattle Public Library) — SEATTLE, WA
In Conversation with…
Wednesday, June 17

Boswell Book Company ( with the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies)
— MILWAUKEE, WI
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Thursday, June 18

Open Books — CHICAGO, IL
Lunchtime Reading/Q+A/Signing
Friday, June 19

Cuyahoga Public Library (with the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and Mandel Jewish Community Center) — CLEVELAND, OHIO
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Tuesday, June 23

Lemuria Books — JACKSON, MS
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Wednesday, June 24

Square Books — OXFORD, MS
Reading/Q+A/Signing
Thursday, June 25

Parnassus Books — NASHVILLE, TN
In Conversation with Gary Fisketjon
Friday, June 26