Amy Hempl is considered a master of the minimalist short story. Many of her stories are less than 3000 words and still manage to convey characters and story. "Rapture of the Deep" is about a temp sent to spend Halloween with a bedridden woman who is afraid to have her house unguarded with kids coming to the door. All the things they might do in revenge, which she outlines. Their conversation mostly concerns the rings the invalid has on her fingers. Then the temp confides the death of a man she was engaged to by "Rapture of the Deep" which is what happens when someone scuba diving goes too deep and loses consciousness. The temp leaves, taking some Halloween candy and paper clips with her and remembers too late the remote is out of the woman's reach. The stories are slight but leave the reader with something to think about.
Megan Abbott is the Edgar Award-winning author of such novels as THE TURNOUT, GIVE ME YOUR HAND, YOU WILL KNOW ME, THE FEVER, DARE ME and THE END OF EVERYTHING. Her latest, BEWARE THE WOMAN, releases on May 30th and dissects the ongoing conversations about ownership and womanhood. Megan’s mother, writer Patricia Abbott, introduced her to countless books as a child and was the biggest influence on her reading habits. Patti gave Megan her first “adult” novel to read, which began her love of mysteries and thrillers, helping to pave the way for her career as a bestselling crime fiction author.
I come from a family of readers and a house stuffed with books --- great teetering piles of used books, library books, moldy paperbacks and plastic-sleeve bestsellers. And no one influenced by voracious reading habits more than my mom, Patti Abbott (now a writer herself). Through most of my childhood, she read as much as a book a day. In addition to her adult tastes (Philip Roth, Anne Tyler, John Irving), she would read books along with me, even reading them aloud while my brother and I washed the dinner dishes for our weekly allowance --- especially what would become one of my favorites: WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT by Judith Kerr.
I have such vivid memories of my mom introducing me to the glories of Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series, and later, LITTLE WOMEN, and still later, Norma Klein and, of course, Judy Blume. And no book was forbidden. She seemed to have an uncanny knack for finding the books that would be right for me --- stories about girls and young women, often loners, idiosyncratic, even surly (Francis Hodgson Burnett’s THE SECRET GARDEN) or far darker (Patricia Clapp’s JANE-EMILY).
But, as a crime novelist, perhaps the memory that looms largest is the moment she placed in my hands my first “adult” novel: THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD. My father and mother both consumed mystery series avidly: Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Georges Simenon and, of course, Agatha Christie. My mom must have sensed long before me that I wanted to be a part of their mystery-binging because she assured me that I’d never guess the ending of THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, and it felt like a dare. Now, I think of it as a Tom Sawyer trick to get me to make the leap from Encyclopedia Brown and the wondrous Harriet the Spy to the adult world. But fall for it I did, and so began my lifelong consumption of mysteries and crime novels.
The family lore became that I did in fact successfully guess Christie’s famous twist before the ending, but I now suspect even that was just a way of luring me on further --- to Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith; into adolescence, Thomas Harris and Caleb Carr; and then onto James Ellroy and the hardboiled master. I’m so grateful for it, and for her, and to everything she gave me --- a lifetime of books, including all the ones we still share.