Is there meaning in a glimpse of two people communing over a bruise? Yes, it turns out. This is the small yet oddly resonant gesture unfolded in short story master Stuart Dybek’s evocative flash fiction “Bruise.” As Sarah Shun-lien Bynum does in Likes, our January California Book Club selection, Dybek homes in on the slightly strange, minute shifts in the bonds between his characters. And he, too, crafts beautiful stories, composed of emotionally precise sentences and concerned with the liminal hinterlands where the real and the dreamscape converge. George Saunders called him “one of the most soulful writers in America, and a national treasure.” We’re pleased to announce that Dybek will be our special guest to converse about Likes with Bynum and our host John Freeman on January 20.
Dybek’s books include the short story collections Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, The Coast of Chicago, and Paper Lantern, along with the novel-in-stories I Sailed with Magellan, which was a New York Times Notable Book. “Breasts,” one of the stories from I Sailed with Magellan, appeared in 2004’s Best American Short Stories. Dybek is also the author of the flash fiction collection Ecstatic Cahoots. He has won a PEN/Malamud, a Whiting Fiction Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, and numerous O. Henry Prizes, and he received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2007. In addition, Dybek is an accomplished poet, with two published collections of poetry.
Be sure to join us for a sparkling conversation about intimacy, connection, and ever so slightly otherworldly short stories.•
SEARCH FOR AUTHENTIC SELF
Alta Journal’s assistant editor Nasim Ghasemiyeh writes about Bynum’s “Julia and Sunny.” It tells the story of two couples, one of whom idealizes the other so completely that they seem to lose themselves. —Alta
YOUNG WOMEN ON INSTAGRAM
In “Likes,” Bynum captures the nuanced emotions of being a girl on Instagram. Alta assistant editor Jessica Blough looks at the story through the personal lens of her own years as a tween on social media. —Alta
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
Past CBC author Reyna Grande reviews How High We Go in the Dark, a dystopian novel made up of interconnected short stories about a pandemic triggered by an ancient virus. Its author, Sequoia Nagamatsu, is originally from Hawaii and the Bay Area. —San Francisco Chronicle
SHAKESPEARE IN DARK TIMES
Hollywood showrunner Patrick Somerville made several significant changes in adapting Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, a speculative novel about the power of art after a pandemic decimates civilization. —Esquire
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