Barthelme Prize Introduction

Amy Hempel

“Gifted” has a breathless, headlong quality that never stalls out. It is acoustically interesting as well, and where there is repetition it is deserved, and delivers an additional beat through the final powerful line. “Delmonicos” is an homage to the grande dames of Florida—”they are dying out, the grand old ladies of Florida, along with the citrus fortunes long spent and the orange blossoms that crowned their heads when they were beauty queens,” and the piece speaks to the death of an era, of a kind of life, in moving observations that capture these women exactly. “All I want in my life is a great abandonment,” says the odd man in “No One Makes Plans.”  And this is more than the narrator can say for herself, seeing her reflection in a wig store window, and coming to an unsettling conclusion. There is a logic to the conversation reported here, without a line being predictable.

Click Read the Barthelme Prize Winner, "Gifted."