Thursday, April 17, 2014

Up, Do

A teacher, a romance writer, and a physicist walk into a book shop…
The start of a clever joke?  Sorry, no.  Just the company I was keeping as I went to the Up, Do reading at Books on the Square recently.  Appropriately enough, as the evening unfolded, it struck me that the personalities gathered in the standing-room-only crowd seemed as diverse as those in the pages of the collection being celebrated that night.
Up, Do accomplishes one of my very favorite things: it brings amazing women writers together and gives them free reign to do their stuff.
And this is excellent stuff.
The draw for me was Kathryn Kulpa, one of my favorite local writers and arguably one of the best authors of flash fiction working today.  You may recall my earlier post about her collection of short fiction, the perfectly-entitled Pleasant Drugs (and if you don’t, go ahead and link to it here).  Her contributions to Up, Do once again showcase her keen sense of human nature and her ability to use words with razor’s-edge precision.  “We Decided” is deliciously sharp, and “Lights Out: Zelda at Highland Hospital” tugged at my heartstrings, underscoring the dichotomy of my admiration for both F. Scott Fitzgerald and his tortured bride.
While Kathryn’s work was a known quantity that did not disappoint, I was thrilled to discover countless new authors to add to my list of favorites.  The collection opens with Jessica Lynne Henkle’s “To the Israeli Who Danced with Me on My Twenty-First Birthday,” a beautiful depiction of self, anonymity and longing.  Theo Greenblatt's “Seven Years” is simultaneously unflinching and sympathetic.  In “A Matter of Time,” Tania Moore brilliantly depicts the bittersweet way the passing of years catches us all off guard.  Ronna Magy’s “Sounds in the Night” chills to the core, as does “Made For This” by Amanda Larson.  “Supermom” by Donna Hill rings painfully true. Humor, realism, and even science fiction commingle seamlessly here.
I’m doing a disservice by failing to name all the authors and stories in this collection.  There is not a single piece that hasn’t earned its place in Up, Do.  If, like me, you enjoy reading excellent literary flash fiction, this is a collection you will savor.  If, like me, you aspire to write excellent literary flash fiction, is a collection you will treasure.
In her introduction, editor Patricia Flaherty Pagan asserts: “The next great flash fiction writer is out there writing, revising and honing her craft.  Her ideas will inform us all.  Go ahead.  Find her.  Go ahead.  Be her.”

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