Good Reads for Writers: “Twin Study” by Stacey Richter

Cathy BelbenReviewed By Cathy Belben

One Amazon reviewer enjoyed Stacey Richter’s Twin Study so much, she says, that she rubbed the book all over her body after reading it. I can’t say I blame her, although as usual, my advance-reader’s copy has been crumpled beneath my bed sheets and sat too close as I ate––among other things––to a Reuben sandwich, a handful of Girl Scout cookies, a goblet of purple liquid, and something that left an amoeba-shaped stain on page 42. Once I got to the end, I was hesitant to turn the final pages without tweezers, let alone rub the book on my skin.

Instead, I’ll just yell. STACEY RICHTER IS A GENIUS. I know there are people shaking their heads and renewing the vow they made in 9th grade to never read another short story, but I command you: UN-VOW NOW. Short stories are among the most underappreciated works of art in the panoply of underappreciated works of art. Occasionally hazy and often pretentious, short fiction can make us feel like undereducated lint balls who’d be better off watching American Idol. There are short stories that are sassy, fun, unpredictable, and sheer genius for creating tiny, twenty-page worlds peopled by dynamic, complex characters. Stacey Richter hasn’t written all of those stories, but she has written a chunk, and readers who miss them are bound to have little holes in their lives where her brilliant wordplay and stunning imagination might have nestled.

Cathy Belben lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she earned early fame for her award-winning fourth grade essay, “What the flag means to me” and later wrote bad rhyming poetry for the Whatcom Middle School Warrior Express. She recently survived a year in Hollywood writing for the show Veronica Mars. She’s returned to her normal life as a high school teacher and librarian, a triathlete, a weightlifter, a yogi, a dog’s mom, a cat’s slave, an artist, a napper, a nanny and an auntie. She’s thankful every day for everything.

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