A story of mine, “Seizure,” published in Ploughshares (Spring 2014), got a wonderful mention last week. It was listed in the “Other Distinguished Stories” section of Best American Short Stories 2015, edited by Heidi Pitlor and T.C.Boyle. I owe the “sighting” to the keen eye of Tanner Curl, a friend with whom I’ve worked at The Loft Literary Center here in Minneapolis. Besides working at the Loft, Tanner Curl (check out his website) is a Minneapolis-based playwright and director. Thanks again, Tanner!
Tanner was also kind enough to explain to me how the citation got there, because either I missed an email (possible) or several emails (less likely) or maybe this is just how it’s done: out of the blue. It might even be better this way, such a lovely surprise, to find out you got some recognition you didn’t even know you were hoping for. But then I think of how entirely too bad it would have been if Tanner or some other kind soul hadn’t brought it to my attention. I suppose you could say this Best American Short Story collection is something I should be buying/reading every year, but you could also say that for a whole lot of books and collections. And even if I had bought it, the likelihood of my reading through the last page of “Other Distinguished Stories” is not great, although I know I have read such lists on other occasions, in other publications.
Because Tanner indicated my story was likely read by at least series editor Heidi Pitlor (and may or may have not been sent on to T.C. Boyle, and thanks for reading, T.C., if you did!), the day Tanner emailed me with the news I extended a “belated Thank You!” to Heidi Pitlor on Twitter, and was thrilled with her response:
Heidi Pitlor @HeidiPitlor Sep 25 @trumpdonna1 My pleasure!
What can I say? I’m a geek. All of it made my day, my week, my month. In terms of honors, my year. Although I joked with Tanner that I might have preferred less honor and more mention (like my actual story in the collection), he suggested I read the other names on MY list (I’ve become somewhat proprietary about it)–and he was right. I’m in good company. Right above my name is Pauls Toutonghi, author of the novel Evel Kneivel Days and an excellent instructor I had at the Tin House Summer Writing Conference. There’s also Karen Russell, Antonya Nelson (x 2), Joy Williams, Lorrie Moore, Elizabeth McCracken (who has a story in the collection as well) and Charles Baxter. So yeah: humility and gratitude right back in place.
Did I say Thank You, Tanner Curl? You can follow Tanner on Twitter @TannerCurl. He’s on Facebook, too. (If you hadn’t noticed, I’m Tanner’s new best fan.)
I just bought the collection now–well, I pre-ordered it. (You can too, right here, or at your local bookseller.) It could be that part of the mystery is now solved, because apparently Best American Short Stories Including the Esteemed List of Distinguished Stories 2015 (I may have padded that title just a bit) isn’t out yet. It’ll be in stores in early October. So it’s possible I found out about my honor in just the way everyone does–kind of serendipitously, before the fact.
I feel endlessly grateful to all of my readers including, and thanks again, Heidi Pitlor. To all of my friends, supporters and teachers at the Loft: Thank you, as always. And thanks so much for keeping an eye out for me, Tanner Curl.