Sing to It

by Amy Hempel

This amazing collection of stories by Hempel is full of lonely characters, who drift through life as they hunt for a sense of human connection. The title story is especially lyrical and evocative, conjuring an entire world in its brief sketch of two lovers: “Not even the rain – he quoted the poet – not even the rain has such small hands.” In “A Full-Service Shelter,” a volunteer at a dog shelter tirelessly, devotedly cares for dogs on a list to be euthanized. In “Greed,” a spurned wife examines her husband’s affair with a glamorous, older married woman. And in “Cloudland,” the longest story in the collection, a woman reckons with the choice she made as a teenager to give up her newborn infant. This is what I’m reading at the moment and it’s providing a lot of inspiration for flash and short pieces – the title story, in particular – is a masterclass in elision and condensation.

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