Recently I asked Milchman about what she was reading. Her reply:
They say the shortest story ever written is by Ernest Hemingway, and it goes like this: For sale, baby shoes, never worn.Visit Jenny Milchman's website.
I am reading The Other Life by Ellen Meister, which references the Hemingway short-short-short. The heroine of this novel, Quinn, is pregnant with a baby who may or may not have a life-threatening deformity. It’s not the kind of book I write, or usually read, and when I started to consider why, it led me to this necklace bead of thoughts.
The Other Life is women’s fiction, which can be distinguished from suspense in many ways, including the fact that there is not the same sense of closure and justice restored. Meister’s premise is masterful: what if you could go through a portal and come out on the road not traveled? What if all the things that made your life hard or painful or disappointing were escapable?
But as I read, I have no sense that by doing so the heroine will be any happier or that events in her life will go more the way that they “should”. Perhaps there is no such thing as should—there’s just happenstance, or circumstance.
I admire this book, but it frightens me more than any suspense novel ever could. Because, you see, there is no right and necessary end I’m traveling toward. It’s like a roller coaster that could end on a peak or right in the middle of a slope…or never end at all.
For sale, baby shoes, never worn.
My Book, The Movie: Cover of Snow.
The Page 69 Test: Cover of Snow.
Writers Read: Jenny Milchman (January 2013).