The Harvest.

29 Jan

In my life I have known many writers. I have known enough writers to know that writers make fussy readers. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to critique a piece of writing because it fails to align with your personal approach.

I know journalists who would be bothered to find – oh, say – some rogue punctuation used for no other reason than to add a certain percussion. I know copywriters, dozens of them, many of whom will confess to doing very little reading outside of their immediate bubble of marketing rags, and advertising blogs, and perhaps the odd edition of Vice Magazine (should it happen to fall across their desk), who despise sentences constructed from more than one very succinct point. And academics who stumble over minor sentences.

I’d like to introduce my favourite Master of the Minor Sentence. You may be surprised to hear it is not Palahniuk. And even more surprised to know it is not Vonnegut. Or in fact a ‘Master’ at all. (Is it appropriate to call somebody the Mistress of the Minor Sentence?)

The author in question is Amy Hempel.

Originally a student of the great catalyst for American Fiction, Gordon Lish, Hempel has gone on to teach creative writing at both Harvard and Princeton. She now runs an extremely exclusive fiction course out of Brooklyn College in New York.

Here she reads a small excerpt of her work, which will help to establish in your mind her measured pace and often grim, fatalistic tone.

Which will assist greatly as you read The Harvest – her finest work of short fiction, and perhaps the most impressive piece of minimalist writing I have ever encountered.

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