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  • There Is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories
  • Deborah Stevenson
Nye, Naomi Shihab. There Is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories. Greenwillow, 2011. [208p]. ISBN 978-0-06-201965-3 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7 up.

Noted poet Nye takes a different tack here with a collection of nearly forty petite short stories, averaging a compact five pages in length apiece. They are stories of a poetic imagination, appropriately enough, and the events are small—a girl sees her grandmother in a different light, a boy sits next to a former teacher on an airplane, a girl attends a movie after her parents’ divorce—the focus instead being on quick glimpses of lives (though occasionally returning to the same lives at different moments), sometimes at significant times, sometimes at reflective instances, and sometimes just at occasions that reveal larger truths about the teenaged protagonists and their struggles. Certain subjects and themes—the war in the Middle East, the experience of being Arab-American, and general attempts to meet across differences—thread their way through several of the stories, but the real similarity lies in the feel and viewpoint throughout. Though the narrations are all third person, the evocations of individual sensibilities are keen, delicate, and heartfelt, the portrayals reflecting the way thoughts and observations flicker through a human mind and aggregate into a conscience and identity. The writing is fluid and supple but never overlofty in expression, whether speaking politically (“Extremists never wanted things to improve. They just wanted to win”) or existentially (“Basically, when you [End Page 98] are a teenager, that is your main business, to discover if you are on a path you want to be on, or can stand being on, or if you are still jumping to find another one”) or even humorously (“Sylvia grew up mad at the Easter bunny”). Prospective writers will be particularly intrigued by the possibilities of this short form; they may find interest in using the entries here as writing prompts for further exploration or coming up with their own candid literary snapshots of human lives.



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pp. 98-99
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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