This post is part of a year-long series about short stories. Read about my “Year of the Short Story” HERE.
Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth (2017)
The collection struck me in a way none of the others in this series have. Olin Unferth walks a difficult line with these 30 stories. They are bright, even cheery, on the surface but there is a darkness lurking below the surface.
Story after story, I was certain that she couldn’t slide that darkness in with such subtlety again. And with every story, she proved me wrong. Each story is unique with varied points of view (“The First Full Thought of Her Life” uses changing POVs in a fascinating and disturbing fashion) and wide-ranging settings. As a writer, I am impressed by the craft displayed, while as a reader, the fascination is the wonder of each new world.
Story length varies widely too. Several stories take up less than a page. They are tightly focused on a single moment or idea. (Like “Fear of Trees’, which runs just shy of 80 words.) The rest range through more “traditional” short story lengths. Through them all, I never felt that she had used a word more than necessary. The writing is masterful and individual. I’ve never read anyone quite like her.
Stories that stood out –
Granted – two academics find themselves trapped by the terms of their financial grant
A Crossroads – a warm and joy-filled story that slides the darkness in like a blade
Opera Season – the perfect summary of a season at the opera for those who don’t know the art
My Daughter Debby – a funny story that grows darker with every paragraph
Voltaire Night – a story that begins low but ends high.
Another great collection for The Year of the Short Story