Story From The Writing Life

Last night I had the most delicious experience. I listened as someone read to me out loud. Well, to me and a room of 75 other people, but it felt extremely intimate and I was completely bowled over.

I had the privilege of being invited to a book launch. (It is so cool to be able to write that.)

“What did you do last night, Dody?”
“Oh, I just attended Quinn Dalton’s book launch, that’s all…”

But – That’s NOT all. It was more than just a venue for a special author to share her newest collection of stories. It was like discovering the joy of reading all over again. It was like homemade vanilla custard being poured over dessert. It was like chocolate melting in your mouth. It was like inhaling a bunch of freshly cut lilacs. It was smooth and sultry and inviting.

Can you tell I haven’t had any new experiences lately? In this harsh, old, jaded world we live in it is hard to actually experience something new; something from the virginal perspective. But last night felt just like that.

Quinn Dalton is a terrific writer. I have had the pleasure and the honor of taking a writing class with her in the role of instructor, mentor, and guide. She happens to be a terrific teacher. But writing is her passion and her new collection of stories, Stories From the After Life,” is pure Quinn; full of unvarnished characters with big hearts and quirky thoughts and imperceptible Mona Lisa smiles. Quinn’s stories have a rhythm like smooth jazz and last night she lived up to that description.

Reading her story titled “Jimmy the Brain and the Beautiful Aideen,” while the group Dawn Chorus coolly jammed in the background, Quinn showed the room full of admirers just how you fold one art form into another. The four musicians seemed to sense exactly what was necessary to provide a seamless musical backdrop for Quinn’s story about the beautiful yet wise older woman, infatuated young man and the awkward social misfit.

I can’t help thinking how unfortunate it is that more people don’t choose to experience the joys of the short story. There was a time when you could find them in every magazine. Yet, as the numbers of readers in America dwindle; so too are the opportunities for talented short story writers becoming harder to find. Trust me. H-A-R-D.

But last night was a latte kind of night. It left me with just enough froth on my mind to savor the experience hours after I returned home. It invigorated the writer inside of me and gave me hope. It also gave me something new to dream, that maybe someday I can read one of my stories out loud to the strains of perfectly pitched music. Like seeing live theatre, last night showed me just how provocative the art of short stories can be. Thanks Quinn, for an exhilarating experience.

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