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 abused children.”
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