Issue #105: Wilderness

Jean Thompson’s “Wilderness” came to us through One Story reader Jason Watt, who once studied with Jean, and has been talking about her incredible skills and pursuing her for a story for a while. When “Wilderness” finally was passed to me, I brought it on the subway, where I do most of my reading. Well, I not only missed one–I missed two stops before realizing the F train had taken me way past my home. This seemed appropriate, since Anna’s narrative begins and ends on a train. In any case, I knew this story was for One Story. It’s very difficult, I think, to use letters properly in a short story, without distracting from the action or forward momentum of the piece. Somehow, Ted’s letters in “Wilderness,” even though they do not touch on the current action of Anna’s Thanksgiving trip to visit Lynn, weave their way through the emotional underpinnings of the story, so that when Anna comes to her conclusion, at the end, it feels completely on target. This story is beautifully crafted, and hits all the complicated feelings of trying to connect in middle age, whether in a marriage, a friendship, with children, or with lovers. So slip this story into your beach bag, read Jean Thompson’s Q&A, and then visit her website to read more about her work. It’s an honor to publish this National Book Award finalist and distinguished advocate for the short story.

3 thoughts on “Issue #105: Wilderness

  1. My favorite so far–since December–I think because as I read I was thinking of the way I have tried to retrieve the old relationships in my life, the way I’ve questioned the choices I have made as I have examined the choices the people I thought were once my closest friends made. How dishonest we all are. How honest we think we are. Beautiful story. It made my afternoon. I’d read 10 pages. Stop. Walk away. Come back. I don’t know about Anna writing Ted a nice letter. She’ll probably go back to her apartment and turn on Janis Joplin or Tina Turner or something. Thanks.

  2. I’m only just beginning the story but love it already. I can certainly relate so far. Can’t wait to finish it which will probably later this evening. I have a lot of things to get done today. Finding time to read is terrible but I’m working on it. Do you ever publish a One Story from a lesser known and unpublished writer? Just curious.

  3. I am a huge Jean Thompson fan. Throw Like a Girl and Who Do You Love are both exceptional books. They are absorbing from the first page, and never disappoint. Full of observations like, “cynicism,…the smart-aleck variety of fear.” Glad to see her here!

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