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National Short Story Month: Five Questions with Stephen Graham Jones

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Originally Published on OpEdNews

In celebration of National Short Story Month, I have asked several acclaimed fiction writers to answer five questions for me. My previous installment included Alan Heathcock, Lydia Millet, Eddie Chuculate and Shann Ray. click here

My second installment will solely consist of Blackfeet author, Stephen Graham Jones, who went above and beyond what I asked and turned in an epic collection of answers. 


by Stephen Graham Jones


What is your favorite opening line of a short story?


Man, that's a hard one. Just scanned through a few, and--never knew this--but I seem to like hooks for two reasons: some conjure the whole story that I love love love, which I think has to count as nostalgia, while others are just perfect and apt openings. How about two, from the A's:

 

--In walks these three girls wearing nothing but bathing suits.

 

That's John Updike, whom I otherwise despise. But, man, that hook does it all just right, doesn't it? What a hook line's doing when it's working is tempting the reader in, making a promise, and kind of previewing the theme of the whole story. In this case, "A&P," which I guess is some northeast store; my analogue would be M-System, maybe? Piggly Wiggly? Either way, that hook's short, simple, sweet, and, near as I can tell, it makes it absolutely impossible not to read the next sentence. And then the whole story.

 

--Seymour didn't want money--he wanted love--so he stole a pistol from the hot plate old man living in the next apartment, then drove over to the International House of Pancakes, the one on Third, and ordered everybody to lie down on the floor.

 

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Bill Wetzel is a Blackfeet Indian and a coauthor of the short story collection "The Acorn Gathering". He has written for the Arizona Daily Wildcat and Red Ink Magazine and been anthologized in the Studies In Indian Literatures series. Follow him at: (more...)
 

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