This may be Cate Kennedy's first collection, but she's won prizes for her short fiction since 1994. One of her stories lost several Australian competitions and then in 2006 won the biggest prize of them all: publication in The New Yorker. Unfortunately, short stories fall somewhere just above poetry and below everything else in terms of their ability to generate sales, which is painful news for the short-story-lover -- and even more devastating for the short story writer. As Kennedy lamented in a 2006 interview with the Australian newspaper The Age, "[Editors] say 'I love this, but I can't get it past the accountants'. That worries me, I don't want that to happen. Even an editor at a literary publishing house said, 'We all think these are fantastic, but we just can't sell them'... But a lot of people say to me, Where can I get your stories?' And there are so many fantastic writers out there practicing the short story form. When I judge competitions, I end up with a shortlist and I think, 'This would make a cracker of a collection.'" Dark Roots was finally published in Australia in 2006, and then in the US in 2008 as a paperback original.
After reading Kennedy's own "cracker of a collection", readers might be
curious to know what she herself reads. While it's no shock that she re-reads
To Kill a Mockingbird every year, one might never have guessed that her
favorite short story is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
"It's about the creative process," she says. "The thing you think you're scared
of pushes you forward. Hold your ground, look the monsters in the eye, then you
can be king of the wild things. You get in that ship and sail and sail, and the
things you have conquered give you the wind home."
Interesting Link: While BookBrowse has a short excerpt from one of the stories in Dark Roots, you can read the full text of "Black Ice" in The New Yorker (which is called "Cold Snap" in Dark Roots).
This article is from the March 6, 2008 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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