characters try, fail, and try again to see the world, to hear each other, and to speak the truth of their longings. Powerful, lyrical, and precise, Pursell’s stories call up a world at once mysterious and recognizable. CLAIRE HOPPLE AUTHOR OF TIRED PEOPLE SEEING AMERICA, DOSTOYEVSKY WANNABE
“I've always been drawn to technique, dialogue, and characters more than plot. Short stories allow me to make every word intentional without sacrificing some sort of major buildup in narrative. You never get bored with the characters. It's also more palatable to non-readers or people who have a difficult time focusing. Not everyone needs to know the color of a sweater or the weather outside unless it's relevant to the story, and that's an incredible thing. The economy of words is an art in itself. The story "Grip" came about the summer I kept passing a sign for a reptile show on my way to work. The very fact that something like that existed just sort of lit up my brain. Doing a little research and jotting down a few notes helped me realize this was also a vehicle for displaying vulnerability in a singularly humorous way. The setting morphed into a reptile-themed birthday party for a child.” From historical reenactors to waterbed owners 92
FEBRUARY / MARCH 2020
BEHIND THE SCENES
to professional mermaids, the characters in Tired People Seeing America grapple with the postmodern American landscape and its effects on personal identity. DALIA ROSENFELD AUTHOR OF THE WORLDS WE THINK WE KNOW, MILKWEED EDITIONS
“When I write a story, I love the challenge of trying to elicit, in the span of a few pages, a strong feeling on the part of the reader about people they have never met and situations they have never experienced. While a short story cannot claim the expansiveness of a novel, its power lies in its concision and compression, in its ability to evoke emotions through efficiency, and even ambiguity: The things that writers choose to leave out can be as revelatory as what they choose to put in. It is this tension that I’m drawn to, the self-restraint of every sentence that allows for each word to matter, and for a world to unfold through its language. Nothing would please me more than for a reader to linger over a scene in one of my stories—or even a single image in a scene—smile, and say to themselves, ‘Hey, I like that.’” Fiercely funny and entirely original, this debut collection of stories takes readers from the United States to Israel and back again to examine the mystifying reaches of our own minds and hearts.