“In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel. One of the greats.
“What seems dangerous often is not—black snakes, for example, or clear-air turbulence. While things that just lie there, like this beach, are loaded with jeopardy. A yellow dust rising from the ground, the heat that ripens melons overnight—this is earthquake weather. You can sit here braiding the fringe on your towel and the sand will all of a sudden suck down like an hourglass. The air roars. In the cheap apartments on-shore, bathtubs fill themselves and gardens roll up and over like green waves. If nothing happens, the dust will drift and the heat deepen till fear turns to desire. Nerves like that are only bought off by catastrophe.”
THE ISLE OF YOUTH is available for pre-order here and here and here (and probably other places too).
The first line from “I Looked For You, I Called Your Name,” the story that opens ISLE:
“The first thing that went wrong was the emergency landing.”
You can read the whole story online here.
Thrilled to be able to share these kinds words for ISLE by two writers I admire hugely:
“Laura van den Berg is one of the most freakishly talented young writers at work today, and a master of the short story form. Hers are deliciously unnerving, moving and monstrous tales.” – Karen Russell
“The Isle of Youth is simply astonishing. Each story is more surprising, more urgent, more savagely frank than the last. This is an awe-inspiring and necessary collection from one of the most sure-footed writers of our time.” – Claire Vaye Watkins
The cover for THE ISLE OF YOUTH is in! It will look like this. Thanks to Nayon Cho at FSG for the beautiful design.