Rebecca Meacham discusses faculty member Antonya Nelson’s short stories “Fair Hunt” and “Female Trouble” at The Missouri Review, as part of their celebration of National Short Story Month.
It started because I wanted to shoot a dog. In a short story, that is. The stories for my first collection— then my doctoral dissertation— were character-driven epiphanies hinging on a character’s decision to act, or not to act. A story with a gun on page 1 and fired by the ending—this sounded like big, explosive fun. So I shoehorned a dog-shooting into a story that really didn’t need it.
My dissertation advisor looked over my draft and said, “If you want to shoot an animal in a story, read ‘Fair Hunt,’ by Antonya Nelson.”
He was right, of course. Nelson’s story is both explosive and character-driven, introducing me to her ability to capture the internal voice, and painfully limited awareness, of her characters. Her stories are also fearless: Nelson writes from the vantage points of husbands stealing strangers’ children, masturbating boys, men having sex, women having affairs, parents fumbling drunkenly, and children exploiting their own tragedies. Like her character Daisy in “Female Trouble,” as a writer Nelson seems “up for whatever.”