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Throwback Thursday: Jim in the New Yorker

14 Aug

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In her article “The World Lives With Water,” Elizabeth Minkel discusses Jim Shepard’s story “The Netherlands Lives with Water.”  Here’s an excerpt: 

Marital problems, and an unwillingness to directly confront them, are an undercurrent through the story, but I was completely wrapped up in Shepard’s imagined future, where the Netherlands calmly tries to control the uncontrollable: rising seas and an explosion of natural disasters. The technical details are remarkably engaging, but it’s the description of the floods—future floods, and the North Sea flood of 1953, the Watersnoodramp—that left me genuinely shaken:

 

Now that our land has subsided as much as it has, when the water does come, it will come like a wall, and each dike that stops it will force it to turn, and in its churning it will begin to spiral and bore into the earth, eroding away the dike walls, until the pressure builds and that dike collapses and it’s on to the next one, with more pressure piling up behind, and so on and so on until every last barrier falls and the water thunders forward like a hand sweeping everything from the table.

 

It’s hard to read, even as the news from upstate and New England has dropped off dramatically in recent days. Nearly a million people up and down the Eastern seaboard are still without power, and the cleanup from the floods has just begun. Updates from my family are heartbreaking—my father works in Schoharie County, one of the worst hit areas in New York State, and even though the several feet of water have subsided, the flood’s detritus remains. And the water levels are as high as they can be; the ground is saturated. If another storm sweeps through, the devastation could be unimaginable.

 

And now, on this mild, cloudless day in New York City, it’s strange to think that a week ago we were laying sandbags at the floodgates along the East River. Last Friday, as a co-worker and I studied the emergency flood map—I live in north Brooklyn, a block from the border of Zone C, and he lives at the southern tip of Manhattan, Zone A, and subsequently left town that night—I couldn’t help but think that what we were really looking at was a map of places that, after a few decades of rising sea levels, may no longer exist. Shepard writes about a quality of Dutchness, pessimism married with practicality, which makes the nation ideally suited for fighting the oncoming seas. I am as un-Dutch as they come, and the idea of the East River spilling up and over the streets of my neighborhood leaves me anxious and incredibly sad. Re-reading “The Netherlands Lives with Water” helped. Shepard’s prose is balanced, steady, and subtly beautiful.

 

Read the full article here.

 

Rob Mclennan Reviews “Master of Miniatures”

8 Aug

 

 

 

 

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“Emotionally complex, haunting and deceptively straightforward….Through Master of Miniatures, Shepard writes out a man who masters both filmmaking and miniatures, as well as a number of personal losses from which he can never recover. Shepard shows just how much the trauma of what Tsuburaya had lived through had permanently changed him, a realization he doesn’t entirely comprehend, and one that he begins to suspect far too late. This is a deeply fulfilling and unsettling novel, one that doesn’t end well or let easily go.”  Read the full review here. 

Jim Shepard at the Summer Writer’s Institute

7 Aug

Jim Shepard a Juror for O Henry Prize

2 Nov

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Here’s another collection to put on your bookshelf.  Jim Shepard selected these stories along with Lauren Groff and Edith Pearlman.  Jim also contributes an essay on the story he admires most.  Buy the volume from Amazon or Powell’s.

Jim Pays Tribute to Alice Munro

2 Nov

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The short story has had its moment of glory this year with the wonderful Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature this year.  Jim, a master of the short story himself, had this to say in a Washington Post article:

“I imagine fiction writers everywhere today are celebrating the Nobel Committee having gotten it exactly right. There’s probably no one alive who’s better at the craft of the short story, or who has done more to revolutionize the use of time in that form, the result often being a 20-page story that demonstrates the breadth and scope of a novel.”

Click here to read the full article.  And we’re sure that lovers of short stories are still celebrating Alice Munro’s win, and hoping the short story continues its time in the spotlight.

The Best American Short Stories 2013

31 Oct

We’re really pleased to see that Jim’s story “The World to Come” has been included in the The Best American Short Stories Anthology.

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The story is about 19th century farm women.  And it’s a love story.  More to come in our next post.  In the meantime, buy your copy of this anthology here or here.

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Jim Shepard’s Teaching Copy of a Flannery O’Connor Classic

5 Jun

Jim Shepard's Teaching Copy of a Flannery O'Connor Classic

You should check out this “BooksbyHeart” tumblr by Joe Fassler, in which “Writers share their dearest literary quotations: lines they’ve committed to memory, taped up by their desks, tattooed on their biceps, triple-starred and underlined.”

Here is a scanned page from Jim Shepard’s teaching copy of “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” According to Joe, “Wow. It’s visually stunning, but if you squint at the notes there’s some great pearls of wisdom about the story.”

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