Q: What’s the story no one else thinks is as good as you do?
A: Twin Study by Stacey Richter is a whole book of short stories that was critically well-received but never became the best-seller it deserved to be. This is the kind of book you shouldn’t read on an airplane, because you’ll creep out everyone around you by alternately gasping and crying and laughing out loud. I’m still haunted by sentences from this book that are so good, they’ll give me imposter syndrome forever.
In college, my fiction professor, Dan Chaon, was a big fan of Richter’s, and that’s how I came across Twin Studies. At the time, Richter maintained a Q&A on her website, and my roommate and I, both aspiring 19-year-old writers obsessed with Twin Study, would frequently come home late at night and send her drunken questions about writing or dating, which she always answered with pithy brilliance. A decade later, I was teaching English IV to a class suffering from a particularly bad case of senioritis and, after failing to interest them in Hemingway and Hamlet, assigned some stories out of Twin Study. Kids who hadn’t done the reading all year were busting with opinions on “The Cavemen in the Hedges”, and probably the single most important class discussion of my teaching career came from talking about date rape after reading the story “Blackout”. Every story in Twin Study is a treasure, and Richter should rank alongside Kelly Link, Karen Russell, and A. M. Homes as one of the best living short story writers. Go read it and thank me later!