My review of Curtis Sittenfeld's first short story collection (after five novels) is up at PopMatters. Sittenfeld writes primarily about the urban Midwestern girl/woman. Here, they are mothers, wives, middle-aged career professionals — all trying to reconcile their Midwestern values with an evolving realization of their places in the world. Having lived in the Midwest for ten years myself, I know these girls and women well — they were my friends, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, and more. Some of these stories are set around the time of the US presidential election, so they are rather interesting in how they play external politics into private politics. Reese Witherspoon is producing an Apple TV show from these stories. It will star Kristen Wiig.
My May short stories column is up at PopMatters. This month, we have some of the finest fiction from five of the ten writers in Michelle Dean's book, Sharp (my review is also linked in the column). While these writers — Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, and Nora Ephron — changed the 20th-century intellectual scene in the US with their essays and reviews, they also wrote some timeless short stories and novels. All the works are linked and free to read online. Enjoy.
This month's journal prompts theme is "productivity." This, of course, means different things to all of us. For some, it is about achieving plans and goals. For others, it is about doing things that align with their values and ethics. One thing almost everyone will agree is that it is never about getting "a lot of stuff" done. Rather, when activities are driven by some kind of purpose and focus, those accomplishments feel like time that has been well-spent, time that has been productive.