Amy Hempel | 2019 | 160 pages | Fiction - Short Stories
This collection of 15 short stories has been a long time coming for fans of Amy Hempel’s work. Her last book, The Dog of the Marriage, was published more than a decade ago, so this new work is met with much enthusiasm. Hempel has a knack for blurring the line between minimalist prose and poetry with some of her shorts being no more than a few sentences long. Her settings are often post- and pre-, on the edges of aftermath. In one story titled “When It’s Human Instead of When It’s Dog,” a housekeeper works vigorously to clean the stain left by a woman’s death from a rug. In “The Correct Grip” the victim of a break-in receives an odd call from the assailant’s wife and, somehow, small talk ensues. Two standout stories in the collection are “A Full-Service Shelter” and “Cloudland,” two of the lengthier pieces, with the former investigating the complexities of animal shelter work in urban landscapes and the latter the hardships of motherhood and the trauma of losing a child.
Hempel’s stories are snapshots rather than full-length films. But this allows the reader to partake in the building of backstory in a way that those of the imaginative type will certainly appreciate.
Review by: Laura Marie Judge, Library Technician