In celebration of the release of Jane McDermott's debut collection of short stories and 2014 Michael Rubin Book Award winner, Look Busy: One hundred 100-word stories by and for the easily distracted, four members of the Fourteen Hills' staff wrote 100-word reviews of the launch party at Green Apple Books on the Park on November 7th (Laughter! Stunned silence! Non-drunk drinking! Book-buying! Book signing! General merry-making!). And as they each discovered, this is not an easy task, or even an always remotely possible one. Respect, Jane, respect. (and yes, including this sentence, this introduction is exactly one hundred words too)
Fourteen Hills celebrated Jane McDermott’s book launch last Friday. It was a joyful event at Green Apple Books on the Park. Jane read several stories from Look Busy: punchy, 100-word stories all in a rhythmic prose with pithy and strong endings. Some stories feel as if they were written in reverse, with everything that preceded working towards the final sentence with an inevitability that surprises and makes one say “of course” at the same time. One wishes that some of these stories were at least 200 words! A fine time was had by all, including Jane’s 90-plus-year-old mother in law. —Natasha Dennerstein, Art Editor
Aisles of bookshelves are compressed to allow for folding chairs and a microphone. Listeners on a tiny staircase and crowded in the back, making occasional whispered room for patrons of the video store upstairs. Jane McDermott is reading not from papers but from her book—an object in her hand, labored over, now in the hands of her audience. This is good, this solid thing, and the laughter as she reads, “No one will know or care how tortuous this is for you,” is knowing, desirous. Jane, we know the struggle! We want this solid sort of almost resolution, too. —Jennifer Alton, Staff Editor
It was a wonderful evening at Green Apple Books on the Park on Friday as Jane McDermott read from her debut collection, Look Busy. Each story in her book is a delicious, bite-sized, 100-word morsel that is satisfying whether you are just nibbling on a single one or are stuffing yourself on several at a time. Her stories manage to contain a moment of clarity or humor in such a small amount of space. So much so, that it's hard to sum up how great they are in just one hundred words. This is a fantastic book everyone should buy! —Matt Hoehne, Fiction Editor
One hundred words. One hundred little words. Preposterous, what concepts can be meaningfully explored in a handful of words? What stories can be told? Somehow, in Look Busy, the 2014 winner of the Michael Rubin Book Award, author Jane McDermott manages to capture the infinite in the particular, the profound in the mundane. Her deadpan presentation of the pieces at Green Apple gave the work the air of a caring but caustic Zen monk telling you to “wash your bowl,” if you know what I mean. If you don’t, that's fine—I haven’t mastered this hundred word thing like Jane. —Gray Tolhurst, Assistant Poetry Editor
If you haven't had a chance to purchase your copy of Look Busy: One hundred 100-word stories by and for the easily distracted yet, please visit Green Apple Books on the Park, or to purchase via the internet, please visit Small Press Distribution. Thank you!