Issue #121: Interrupted Serenade

I first heard about James Hannaham’s work from Martha Southgate, who’d read an early galley of his first novel, God Says No. “He’s the real deal,” she said. And when I got the chance to read his writing myself, I agreed. There is a beauty and scope to James’s work that is simply classic–just like the music that turns the plot of “Interrupted Serenade.” The prose is clear, precise, and devastating–and yet James puts his own special stamp on these characters. It feels very fresh to be exploring a relationship between a stepmother and her stepson. Lopey and Erika stayed with me–I found myself thinking of her holding in that scream at the police station, and later, I began downloading Debussy and Chopin, so that I could hear the music Lopey was practicing. Whenever I become that involved with a story, I know it will be a good fit for our magazine. I hope our readers enjoy this taste of James’s work, stop by our Q&A with him to learn how he wrote it, and then go out and buy his novel, God Says No.

4 thoughts on “Issue #121: Interrupted Serenade

  1. (A little housekeeping; this is my second issue of ONE STORY since subscribing and I am thrilled so far. The stories have been terrific, and the design of the publication is very elegant in it’s simplicity. Kudos!)

    I wanted to remark on Mr. Hannaham’s story skillful use of point-of-view. While we journey through the heads of Lopey and Erika it’s a seamless transition from character to character.

    I think the only reason I noticed was because of a recent article about POV I had read. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have given it a second thought. I say that as a supreme compliment! There are a lot of things in life that you only notice if they’re not working properly, and I believe POV, if handled clumsily, is one of them.

    Another thing that struck me as I read the story was the terrific tension from all angles. There’s so many dynamics between all the characters, said and unsaid, that really drives the story forward.

    Well done!

  2. “I wanted to remark on Mr. Hannaham’s story skillful use of point-of-view.”
    (Please disregard “story” in the above sentence. I have since fired my proofreader.)

  3. I enjoyed “Interrupted Serenade”. Mr. Hannaham knows how to sustain tension by revealing just enough character at a time and showing both large and small things happening.

    The music and its possibilities heightened the hope and the dread, given the diligence of Erika and Bill in buying the piano for Lopey.

    I traveled through Lopey’s world. I watched him get into trouble, treat his talent with a peculiar loathing, question himself and others, and wind up in trouble again. Still, in the end, I reached no pat conclusion as to who deserved the lion’s share of blame.

    Congratulations, Mr. Hannaham, on a story well told.

  4. There is so much to admire in this story–many aspects of which have already been mentioned–but what impressed me most was the ending. Kudos to the author for writing the inevitable ending, not the Hollywood one! This story came to a natural conclusion that broke my heart because it was the genuine one.

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