Worth a Read – 2015 – January 4

Steve reading

In my natural habitat.

I read a lot this weekend, and this literary short story stood out for me.

1. At Risk by Gabriel Talent (Narrative)

All the boys except for Jim are huddled together with hoods drawn up and hands tucked into their sleeves to keep the mosquitoes off. The girls are in their tent, twenty yards off. Hoss and I walk past the huddled boys and unzip Jim’s tent and stoop into the wet stinking darkness. The floor tarp is covered in mud, the sleeping bags are half-sodden, and it smells like the devil took a shit in there. Jim lies stretched out to his full length, with one hand over his face to keep away mosquitoes, and he makes no movement at all when we come in.

I enjoyed this layered tale of an at risk youth excursion gone off the tracks (but sometimes that’s a good thing). Great details, good characterization and some nice tension along the way. And a bear.

What’s on your hot list?

I’ve also been writing every day (7-9AM) and working through Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing FictionIt’s been quite eye-opening and much of his advice, while obsessive, rings true to my sensibilities, especially regarding literary fiction. I do hope to apply some of this technique to my speculative fiction as well, though there’s a gulf between idea-centric and emotion-centric works. I do like to embrace character even in my idea stories. If you find yourself with loads of time on your hands (I don’t, but I’m making time for this) you might even want to watch him write a short story in real time.


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About Stephen

I live in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania with fellow writer, Susan Urbanek Linville, and a herd of reformed feral cats.

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