Monday, August 08, 2011

The Joy of Cooking

I recently started a subscription to One Story. It's this cool literary magazine, where for one dollar per issue, you get one short story (in small, offset, saddle-stapled chapbook form), written by a new or established writer, mailed to you every 3-4 weeks. My first issue was "The Joy of Cooking" by Elissa Schappell, and it was a hoot, such a good read. I am thinking of doubling down and extending my subscription to two years.

In "The Joy of Cooking" a mother is trying to explain a "family recipe" to her daughter over the telephone, bringing up the entire family history of love, divorce, anorexia, sibling rivalry, etc, in the process. There is tight, funny, heartrending dialogue (both spoken and interior), and the story just zips along (after all it's the length of a phone call/recipe).

Highly recommended. Check out the One Story website here.


I've also just finished reading The Hypnotist, by Lars Kepler. It is supposed to be the next in line in the Swedish Crime/Thriller genre, in the vein of Steig Larrson's Millennium Trilogy. The author's name is actually a pseudonym for the husband-wife team who wrote the book (it's their first collaboration). It's uneven, but definitely worth the read. The chapters are very short, 3-4 pages long for the most part, and the story moves at a rapid clip, until in the middle of the book there is a 80-100 page extended flashback (almost a novella in its own right). At first I was annoyed at the change of pace, but in my opinion it totally works, lending depth and dimension to the characters and plot. My favorite scenes are the ones that take place in group therapy, with the hypnotized subjects appearing as if underwater, with bubbles coming out of their mouths and seaweed and sea creatures floating by. An image that returns to great effect in the stunning finale. Check it out!



C. Dale said...

One Story is wonderful. I subscribe as well.

Peter said...

Hi C Dale--I am looking forward to more. Who knew fiction could be so fun?