Sunday, May 14, 2006

I love finding new writers I know I'm going to enjoy. I'm not sure how Judy Budnitz has passed me by, but as I've only just got one book of hers so far, her short stories - Flying Leap - it's obviously my lucky day. Too often I love the idea behind a short story, but find it's not carried through (one of the dangers of the genres, I suppose), but these stories are crafted brilliantly. My favourite is 'Average Joe' where a guy suddenly gets attention because he's been nominated the most average man in America. Even God comes calling:
"The next day was Friday. I stayed home from work.
That morning God came to me. No fuss, no fanfare, no limo, no cohorts in sunglasses. He came to me as I lay in bed."

Of course, God needs help too from this Average Joe:
'Joe, I need your advice,' God said. He sighed and put his head in his hands. I mean, he would have, if he'd had a head and hands and was built that way. That's how despondent he was.
'I don't really think I'm qualified to advise you,' I said. I was trying to be humble; the Bible says God likes that.'
'I think you can, Joe,' he said. 'I need you to speak for the poeple. Tell me, Joe, what ails them? Why are their spirts weak? Why don't they believe in me any longer?'

I LOVED this story, and the conclusion which I'm not going to reveal in case anyone buys the book! I think it's the combination of exact detail and surreal imagination, which makes the whole thing believable. It might be a flight of fancy, but Budnitz never falters in letting her characters question that it might be happening, and so the reader goes along too. The phonecalls from sales people are very funny too, and felt like a subtle revenge for all the times those phonecalls interrupt precious writing time.
And so my writing prompt for today is going to be ... a sales phonecall that goes off script.


chiefbiscuit said...

I'll look out for this book - I am into short stories right now - it's my next project. Thanks for posting this. Have a good day - or evening? I'm about to start my working week - Monday morning over here (and cold!! Brrr.)

Sarah said...

Oh me too, chiefbiscuit - into short stories. Are you reading or writing them?