In the literary world, maybe no modern short story writer has more admirers than Amy Hempel. Her beautiful, sparse writing style has cultivated fans across the globe—gaining a fandom in writers as broad as Miranda July to Chuck Palahniuk. Sing to It, her first short story collection since 2006, is another high mark for the evolving writer. There is still plenty of familiar territory for returning fans of Hempel’s writing; her minimal prose still packs a serious punch, and the stories (sometimes as short as a few paragraphs) require dissection and repeat readings.
My own favorite was “A Full-Service Shelter,” a lean story
that is informed by Hempel’s own time as an animal shelter volunteer. Part
touching, part hilarious, the story describes how volunteers are viewed from
dogs’ perspective. It includes winning lines like this: “They knew us as the
ones who had no time for the argument that caring about animals means you don’t
also care about people; one of us did! Evelyne, a pediatrician who treated
The scariest movie of the year isn’t in our horror section. Free Solo, an Oscar-winning documentary from National Geographic, shows the story of American rock climber Alex Honnold as he attempts to “free climb”—meaning, without a rope or safety gear—the 3,000-foot El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. The documentary not only features amazing visuals of the climb, but attempts to explain the head-scratching decision to complete such a dangerous feat. This documentary is highly recommended—as long as you’re not afraid of heights. You can place a hold on Free Solo now.
For this edition of Local Author Spotlight, Adult Services
Librarian Becca Skau interviewed Rodney Wetzel, a local author who has written
a horror series that begins in a fictional town outside of Jackson, Michigan.
Mr. Wetzel commented on his series being set in the Jackson area: “I was born
in Jackson and spent most of my life in the Jackson area. Even though I now
live in Tampa, my roots are still in Michigan and the Jackson area. I still
have a lot of family and very dear friends there and still consider Jackson
Rodney Wetzel graduated with honors from Western Michigan
University and continued his education at Spring Arbor College. When not
writing horror, he spends his time working as a grant writer and Senior Planner.
He is the author of Fritz, Banthom and Bobby’s Cage. He
and his wife live outside Tampa, Florida, where he is currently at work on his
fourth and final book of the series.
What was your inspiration to begin writing? Why did you
choose to write horror?
I chose to start writing as a way of recovering from a
near-fatal car accident back in 1995. The reason I chose horror was that I grew
up as a fan of Stephan King. When I was young, I read everything he wrote.
What do you want readers to know about your first book Fritz,
and the rest of the books in the series?
I believe that horror has taken some of the traditional
horror monsters and put them into dramas rather than horror. I would like to
remind the reader why those monsters were so terrifying for so many years.
What authors most influenced your writing?
Though I grew up with Stephan King, I would say the biggest
influence for Fritz was Stocker’s Dracula. It may be an older
story, but it is still one of the scariest stories ever written.
What is one of the hardest things you had to learn as a
writer? What do you wish you would have known ahead of time?
The hardest part of writing for me is the editing. I have
learned a lot with every book, but editing is the hardest aspect.
Do you prefer eBooks or physical books for your own
I will always prefer the feel of paper. There is something
special about turning the page. Still the electronic copies (eBooks and
audiobooks) provide many benefits, such as having Alexa read it for you.
Top 3 books you want every reader to check out from the
Besides Fritz, Banthom and Bobby’s Cage,
I would recommend Bram Stocker’s Dracula, Stephan King’s Salem’s Lot,
and Dean Koontz’s The Bad Place.