Short Story Reverence: Nancy Reisman’s “Illumination”

Teaching short stories for the university setting is one of my favorite Lucia's Dress?aspects of my profession, and in preparation for this spring, I happened upon Nancy Reisman’s “Illumination.” Set in Buffalo, NY, 1933, what struck me about this piece is how the main character, Jo, is trapped by her body; trapped in a way that circuitously wraps itself into her actions and the way in which she sees her life through metaphor.  Reisman has a fantastic sense for creating tension with intimacy and distance; the writing, too, so closely knit, is difficult to cut even a  piece to examine without feeling uncomfortable.  Her first paragraph:

Lucia Mazzano is a loaf of bread.  Black hair pinned into a tight rosette, black lashes, olive neck, olive fingers, tapered, small, her dress a long flute, yellow of forsythia, yellow of butter.

“Illumination” was first published in Tin House, and can be found in The Best American Short Stories (2001), edited by Barbara Kingsolver.

About the Author: Abigail Browning

aba-city-lights-poet-picAbigail Browning, Founder and Managing Editor, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, received her MFA in Poetry at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Abigail has poems either published or forthcoming in the Yemassee Journal OnlineThe Greensboro Review, Linebreakand RHINO Poetry. In addition, she was honored to receive the Amon Liner Poetry Award, the Noel Callow/Academy of American Poets’ Prize, and was a finalist for the Linda Flowers NC Arts Prize. She also has a passion for jazz music and dance, and teaches swing-era dances in her free time: www.abigailbrowning.com. Currently, she is studying Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media as a PhD at NC State in Raleigh, NC.

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