Living Arrangements

Laura Maylene Walter‘s debut short story collection “Living Arrangements” (BkMk Press, 2011) won the 2010 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction.  I love what Robert Olen Butler had to say about her work:

“The stories in Living Arrangements are rooted in the most important principles of literary art. They are not content simply to render the problems of characters; they transform those problems into the dynamic of desire, which drives all great narrative. And the desire in these stories is that of most great literature: the desire for self, the desire for a place in the world, in the universe. Living Arrangements is a splendid recipient of the redoubtable G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction.”

Pretty amazing, right? I’ve found “Living Arrangements” compulsively readable.  The characters in these stories are emotionally driven and feel alive on the page. I once told her how reading her stories feels like riding the subway and wondering about the people I see, but her work she gives me a glimpse inside their hidden self – their fears, secrets and desires. Like Butler said, her work goes further, transforms those details of characters into something more, something complex and compelling.

I first met Laura in a writer’s group about four years ago. I was so impressed with her writing. I remember trying to awkwardly convey this to her after that first meeting. I don’t think I was successful in hiding how flabbergasted I was that she wasn’t submitting her work for publication. I’m pretty sure I insisted she should be sending it out to the world. She probably thought I was a total weirdo (writer’s groups are full of them, after all). Fortunately for me, this weirdo impression didn’t appear to deter her. When I finally worked up the nerve to contact her, we met for coffee and she offered me what every writer needs – friendship. Laura is an excellent critique partner, confidant and cheerleader. I’m so glad she started sending out her stories so everyone else can enjoy and admire them too.

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