LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD
ONE OF TIME’S 100 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
From legendary writer Amy Hempel, one of the most celebrated and original voices in American short fiction: an astounding collection of fifteen stories that are “riveting in precision” (The Atlantic) and “scintillating as the blade of a knife” (The Wall Street Journal).
Amy Hempel is a master of the short story. A multiple award winner, Hempel is beloved and highly regarded among writers, reviewers, and readers of contemporary fiction.
These fifteen exquisitely honed stories reveal Hempel at her most compassionate and spirited, as she introduces characters, lonely and adrift, searching for connection. 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. Quietly dazzling, these stories are replete with moments of revelation and transcendence and with Hempel’s singular, startling, inimitable sentences.
Ravishing, heartbreaking, and powerfully concise, Sing to It is an “exquisite collection” (The Wall Street Journal) and a “quiet masterpiece by a true American original” (NPR).
Short story virtuoso Hempel's first collection since 2006 consists of 15 characteristically bold, disconcerting, knockout stories. The title story, which fits on a single page, offers no plot, names, dates, or setting just snippets of dialogue, a proverb, and a gesture to capture a moment of personal connection. "The Quiet Car," in two pages, shows a moment of disconnection signaling the end of a relationship. A volunteer who relates better to dogs than people narrates "A Full-Service Animal Shelter," an 11-page rant/lament about working with dogs on the "euth" list. In "Chicane," a woman longs for closure when she meets the French actor who once seduced her suicidal aunt. In "Greed," a woman seeks payback as she tracks the older woman with whom her husband is having an affair. The volume ends with the remarkable 62-page "Cloudland," a visually rich, heart-wrenching portrait of a Florida caregiver haunted by thoughts of the baby girl she gave up for adoption at a Maine maternity home years ago. In stories that can be funny, brutal, poetic, blunt, elusive, or all of the above, this accomplished collection highlights Hempel's signature style with its condensed prose, quirky narrators, and touching, disturbing, transcendent moments.
I didn’t find but a few chapters in the book moving. I thought the thoughts in the book were scattered and kind of hard to depict what the author was intending to communicate. I wasn’t overwhelmed by any emotions whatsoever. Probably wouldn’t recommend it or bother reading it again but it didn’t feel like a complete waste of time.