Lisa Glatt: how a girl becomes a comma

Lisa Glatt’s “Cream” is a well-executed and peculiarly brittle short story about a teenage girl bedding her brother’s friends in search of some small validation that will not be forthcoming. Lying in bed with the first boy, she thinks “about how a girl like me can be reading Ms. Magazine one minute, making plans for college, then offering a boy her sandwich cookies and virginity the next.”

The story appeared in the debut issue of Swink. On the strength of it, I plan to pick up Glatt’s first novel, A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That, which was excerpted in the weekend’s New York Times Book Review.

If you’re wondering about the title’s meaning, consider this quote from the book (I happened upon it in a Publishers Weekly review): “A girl becomes a comma like that, with wrong boy after wrong boy…. She becomes a pause, something quick before the real thing.”

The book receives a mixed review in the NYTBR. Reviewer Lisa Zeidner seizes the opportunity to criticize an approach that has become increasingly common: the novel “stitch[ed] together” from separate short stories that writers have produced for creative-writing workshops. “[T]he novel in stories can be an awkward hybrid, lacking a novel’s narrative drive and a story’s dense self-enclosure,” Zeidner argues. Yet she concedes that “Glatt makes a case that this style of elliptical storytelling is appropriate for her material.”

Judge for yourself tonight at 8 p.m., when Glatt reads at Pianos with other Swink contributors Amy Bloom and Bob Hicok.


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