Sing To It -- Amy Hempel

Staff Pick

“When danger approaches—sing to it,” Hempel advises in the opening story of her virtuoso new collection. In the fourteen startling works that follow, her characters face rising oceans, fracking-induced earthquakes, infanticide, animal abuse, infidelity, and the original evils of snakes and deception. In one piece Hempel shows how we can contain the threats of both a violent history and a frightening future by turning them into museum pieces. In another she focuses on the story—“the one where brutality saves a life”—that a man chooses to tell a woman at a defining point in their relationship. A third uses repetition as a kind of leash on the emotions to recount a heart-wrenching litany of tragedies at a dog shelter. Others trace the emotional fallout of meeting the man responsible for an aunt’s suicide or of learning that the daughter given up for adoption may have suffered an unthinkable fate. Hempel’s work documents the everyday courage of people carrying on their spared lives as best they can before “the proverbial pendulum swings the hell back.” But plot summary can’t convey the true power of this fiction. And Hempel herself isn’t interested in plot; rather, hers is an art of indirection and suggestion, and above all of language so concentrated that she often needs less than a page to convey an entire life.

Sing to It: New Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982109110
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - March 26th, 2019

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