Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My heart--I thought it stopped (more Amy Hempel)

I went to The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. I bought The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel. It's cheaper on Amazon, but I like to support independent book stores with liquor licenses. It's nice to know I'm set if I have an alkie-fit in Non-Fiction.

I'm working my way through the book now. All of her stories are short, but some of them are REALLY short (one of her stories is only one sentence). If you don't read any of her collections, yet want to know what it's like to read Amy Hempel, ask a friend to punch you in the face. When you start crying, let him hug you. That's what it's like to read Amy Hempel.

In the Animal Shelter

by Amy Hempel
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

Every time you see a beautiful woman, someone is tired of her, so the men say. And I know where they go, these women, with their tired beauty that someone doesn't want--these women who must live like the high Sierra white pine, there since before the birth of Christ, fed somehow by the alpine wind.

They reach out to the animals, day after day smoothing fur inside a cage, saying, "How is Mama's baby? Is Mama's baby lonesome?"

The women leave at the end of the day, stopping to ask an attendant, "Will they go to good homes?" And come back in a day or so, stooping to examine a one-eyed cat, asking, as though they intend to adopt, "How would I introduce a new cat to my dog?"

But there is seldom an adoption; it matters that the women have someone to leave, leaving behind the lovesome creatures who would never leave them, had they once given them their hearts.