Short story writer Antonya Nelson's new collection "Funny Once" is filled with characters modified by the prefix "ex." Ex-husbands, ex-wives, and ex-stepparents abound. Nelson, whose stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and Esquire, grew up in a less-than-nuclear family herself.
Nelson, who lives part-time in Telluride and Bonanza, Colo. (a town that has almost disappeared), is able to reveal the world about her characters in just a few words. As an example, she writes of a needy female character in one story, "You can see it in the way she greets you, grabbing with two palms to shake your hand, to detain you in her clutch."
Nelson says "I like being able to capture a character as often as I can in a single or maybe a couple of sentences."
Nelson says her knack for developing and describing characters stems from her hobby of sorts: staring at people. She's done it since she was a kid. "I can remember being at a restaurant staring at these girls (not even aware I was staring at them) and them calling me on that and me being humiliated."
You can read the title story from "Funny Once" here.
Colorado Matters at the Tattered continues July 29 at the store on Colfax Ave. in Denver with former 5280 executive editor Maximillian Potter. His new book is called "Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World's Greatest Wine."