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A Conversation With Best Debut Short Stories 2020 Author Ani Cooney
“Since March, how many have had to grow up fast and be valorous because of amoral, wicked, and cowardly leadership?”
You pulled your mother’s clothes inside out and wrote with a capital and a capital , respectively. In black ink, you wrote behind the wide belt loops, round and round the broad belt loops, until , the last name, met , and they read in infinity. You wrote the name on the fat waistline and inseams until it reached the leg openings. On the back and front pockets. . Behind the zipper of the fly. . Then you pulled the clothes back outside in, folded them, and placed them in a large box that you labeled .
You would find new owners for your mother’s clothes. They would find movement again in a large body the size of your mother’s. Wouldn’t that be nice? you thought as you pushed the box in the closet. Her clothes fitted around someone else’s jiggle.
Two weeks had already passed and you were coping. Your mother prepared you for a time like this, after all.
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“Maybe being in a disorganized, overstimulated state of mind helped me evoke the anxiety of being on the internet while undergoing a process of ruthless self-evaluation.”
“Speculative fiction at its best is outlandish at first glance, but ends up feeling immediate. That challenge is often what gets me writing—I want to take an absurd premise and see how deep it can go.”
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“When you’re a kid you’re not sure if you don’t know something because you haven’t been taught it or because you’re not supposed to know.”
A Roundtable With the PEN America Best Debut Short Stories Judges: Tracy O’Neill, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and Deb Olin Unferth
So many of the stories I liked best played with understatement and a sort of quiet, confident pacing.
“Interracial love has been codified and digitized, and we’ve found that it sells less ads, is less addictive, than its alternative.”