Sing to It

Review From User :

In every way perfect, this set of stories. (Except, perhaps, "The Chicane," though it's likely I'm missing something and just need to read it a few more times, and carefully.)

Favorites include "A Full-Service Shelter," "I Stay With Syd," "Greed," and "The Correct Grip," stories I've admired since reading them when they first appeared in litmags. (Minor complaint: the substitution of "hell" for "fuck" in the latter story's final line!)

New to me were three wonderfully sad short-shorts - "The Second Seating," "Moonbow," and "Equivalent" - but difficult to find, I imagine, is the reader who doesn't locate the prize in SING TO IT in "Cloudland," the longest story in the collection, which, like "Tumble Home," convinces me that Amy Hempel and Amy Hempel alone knows how to navigate expertly the strange terrain of the long-long story/almost-novella. It's a staggeringly great piece of writing, and with enough autobiographical overlap - Hempel's friend, the late Christopher Coe, is mentioned by name, and the story does take place in Hempel's new terrain of Florida - that it's tempting to read as at least partially true, in which case it's all the more devastating. (As was the case with "Tumble Home.") Of course, that isn't what matters at all. What matters is the language, and, fuck, I mean, even if it didn't contain a Joni reference, this is masterful:

"'The geese in chevron flight' - these are Joni Mitchell's words, and I hope the girl got to see this. In my mind, she sees this over and over, every year at the right time of year. The sound is part of the vision, of course, and part of Mitchell's haunting song, 'Urge for Going.' I played it countless times. Sound calls up yearning more than anything you can see, and is why I no longer listen to the much-loved song...You can shut it all down. Every last thing you defined yourself by - you can give it up, and go without, and put up a front that gets some traction. You must keep your gaze turned outward. Pay attention to others. Don't fall back on what is waiting to take you down. Or choose to fall back on it, with arms flung out at your sides."

Thank the god I don't believe in that she's back.


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