short stories


Total humanity: A review of Mad Hope


Reviewed in this essay: Mad Hope by Heather Birrell. Coach House Books, 2012. Mad Hope, by Toronto writer Heather Birrell, is a collection of 11 short stories that gives the unshakable sense that life, death, love, and grief are being felt and experienced at the highest pitch, all around you. From family relationships, to lovers’ quarrels, intimate forms of loss, and the many shapes parenthood...

Reflecting on Amy Hempel’s “In A Tub”


After reading Amy Hempel’s “In a Tub,” I felt inspired to reflect on the story. Two years ago, I posted this essay on my blog, A Long Story Short.   I eyed my grey, suede moon boots and my white ski jacket in the front closet, smelled snow on the draft seeping through the front door, then climbed the steps of the landing and lay on my back– overwhelmed. When she pushed open the front door at five...

The World Absurd


Reviewed in this essay: Look Down, This is Where It Must Have Happened by Hal Niedzviecki. City Lights Books, 2011. Hal Niedzviecki’s Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened, will perturb you if you like to think the world is mostly a predictable place if you play your cards right. In each of the book’s twelve stories, Niedzviecki plunks well-meaning, conscientious people — mostly...

America, From the Margins: A Review of Don DeLillo’s The Angel Esmeralda


Reviewed in this essay: The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories, by Don DeLillo. Simon & Schuster, 2011. The latest from American writer Don DeLillo is a sparse but rewarding short story collection, the first of his career. While it may not offer a radical departure from the major preoccupations of such era-defining novels as White Noise (1984) and Underworld (1997), The Angel Esmeralda nonetheless...