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.”

4 thoughts on “Issue #212: When in the Dordogne by Lily King

  1. I am a beginner writer and sharing my writing with others is a struggle because of the fear of being judged. When writing horrible things that happen to characters . . . how do you cope with revealing yourself or your “demons”

  2. Thank you for writing! It definitely can be hard to share your work when you are just starting out. As Gordon Lish said, “Wear your heart on the page and readers will read to find out how you solved being alive.” Best of luck with the writing!

  3. This was an exceptionally well-written story, with so many subtle hints at what the main character is feeling and seeing that it could easily be developed into something longer, novel or novella length. I also got a whiff of homoeroticism in the section describing the two naked men in the pool, and that perhaps the two men had a certain intimacy that was not spelled out in the story. Complexity in a compact package: a great combination.

  4. Splendid story, a literal page turner for me.
    Couldn’t go to sleep without finishing it.
    The march towards adulthood, is always fertile territory for exploration.
    Well thought out the story begs for further development.
    One of the best in the series .
    Impressive

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