A lonely voice in the short story world

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By Carmen Comment

Though Dinitia Smith’s profile of Deborah Eisenberg is somewhat overburdened with appearance description (the writer “looks like a large, slender bird with her heavy eyelids, beaked nose, small chin” and “wears a gray sweater with big, winglike arms”) the piece does try to make a point, however nebulous, that the 60-year-old author of TWILIGHT OF THE SUPERHEROES is getting the kind of kudos for short stories that is usually accorded to novelists — especially as Eisenberg has never written a novel.

Good short stories are “vertical novels, sort of layered,” she said, “ephemeral, mysterious, condensed in the way of poetry,” further adding that she likes “the eclipses, the synaptic jumps of short stories…The reader has to participate very actively in the experience.”

But of course, short story collections don’t exactly sell well, as B&N’s fiction buyer Sesalee Hensley is quick to point out. “I’m not thinking this will recharge the form,” Hensley said, “but I’m hoping this will bring Deborah Eisenberg to a wider audience because I think she is a great writer.”

But one who is slow; it took her eight years to finish the collection, and she hasn’t written anything in over 12 months — sighing that she is “completely sailing under false colors.”

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