Reasons to Live
Hempel's now-classic collection of short fiction is peopled by complex characters who have discovered that their safety nets are not dependable and who must now learn to balance on the threads of wit, irony, and spirit.
The reason is that she is not only a minimalist but also because she is an intelligent short story writer.
This is true. I don't have a plan to write because I am still busy with my corporate career. Maybe someday, who knows. Right now though, I am reading because I enjoy knowing the lives of other people, the situations they are into and I appreciate good writing styles. Seeing different techniques in writing, you know, ...more
There's so many reasons to live, but Hempel reminds you of one major one, which is to read work like this.
A very good book of short stories. The shorter pieces are spare and elliptical--sort of like Raymond Carver, but without the power. But the better longer pieces--"Nashville Gone to Ashes," "In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried," "Today Will Be a Quiet Day" are very fine. In their classical, restrained, deeply human way they remind me of Tillie Olsen at her best--and that is high praise indeed.
 minimalist (or "miniaturist," if you ask hempel) writing style that is unique and moves at a rapid clip
 emotional displacement
that last one is particularly important, since i think one of the more difficult challenges any writer faces when wanting to express a complex emotio ...more
I have to admit that stories with a few unpredictable twists of structure, which are of no consequence otherwise, ...more
Also this: "The ...more
This book had been recommended to me by numerous classmates and professors. I kept hearing how great Amy Hempel is, and she is great to some people of course. The stories in this collection are short (which I do like), usually first-person, rarely name characters, and bounce around from action to memories. I guess you could call them slices of life. They don't have "plots," so the stories just meander around vague situations and characters.
I liked a few (maybe 3) of ...more
My heart hurts. This is actually the first section of her collected stories, so I'm still reading. But this really took me by surprise and like Lindsay said, made me feel like I got hit by a truck. It's harder for me to read and hear stories about parents and children, or would-be children, now that I have kids. It just puts my heart through the wringer in a way that I'm not really equipped for anymore. I'm too busy to feel this much. My heart is too full to be flooded like this ...more
I'll forever aspire to create images like Amy Hempel can. So much ...more
Hempel's minimalist style feels anything but; her sentences are so packed with meaning and nuance. It isn't uncommon for additio ...more
The Pretty Darn Good: "When It's Human"; "Today Will Be a Quiet Day"
The Forgettable: the rest
I'm not entirely sure what this tells you about a short fiction collection comprised of fifteen stories ranging from one-page to no more than twelve or thirteen in length. I can say that the six stories I listed above as 'great' are almost certainly worth the p ...more
(okok, too easy. a bit pat. Was she not asking for it, though, with a title like this for a collection of stories? Is that not a bit presumptuous?
Some of my favorites (if I can even rea ...more
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Is he kidding? I thought.
Once I cashed a paycheck and I realized it wasn't enough.
Once I had food poisoning, and realized I was trapped inside my body.”