thanks to the miracle of alphabetization

my story, “The Last Speaker of the Language,” is the first in Best American Short Stories 2012, just out from Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt.


  1. I loved the story! As usual your skill at dialogue just blows me away. It is so hard to write good dialogue. And yours just shines. This story shines. In so short a space you nail those characters down indelibly. They are so finely, carefully rendered, and you’ve done that with such brief strokes, yet they are fully inhabited and we …..know them. And also, as usual, you are one ferociously funny writer. I laughed out loud frequently in “Carry the One” and I did so here as well. And yet, your subject matter is anything but funny. Such reservoirs of pain run just under the often hilarious surface, and lend this story enormous weight and poigancy. The tragic and comic, you balance them effortlessly and masterfully.

    I have now read “Carry the One” and this story. I will be reading all your work soon. I love the degree of engagement I feel when reading you, your prose pricks up my ears, I am aware of being hyper attentive and emotionally invested, and…interested. Lame word. Engaged is really what I feel, fully and totally engaged, and completely swept away by the power of your narrative gifts.

    Thank you Carol.
    Your fan,

  2. Brava, Carol! I just got my “Bests” today & read you first – I’d have done so even if you were Zanshaw. I loved the story & am agog at your creativity – your fantastic characters, their antics, the dialogue. My favorite bit starts on the first page where “…she sinks into the special sorrow of peeing while your mother is out cold on the floor next to you. There are probably heavy drinking cultures … where they have a specific word for this emotion.” Has anyone ever accused you of channeling Jane Austen? A warped Jane Austen, of course, but then that’s the the only possible kind in this wacko world.

    Best, Alice

  3. Can’t wait to pick up a copy! It’s my favorite book of the year, and this year I’ll look forward to starting with your story. Congratulations, Carol.
    ~ Shelagh

  4. I loved this story. I’m so excited to have discovered your writing. Characters so delightful, hopeful and real and story so elegant -underneath the grime and pain. Best thing I’ve read in ages. Thanks!

    1. I don’t think anyone has analyzed it, and I’m not even sure what you mean by an analysis. is there anything about the story that seems confusing, or that I might explain further?

  5. The Last Speaker of the Language more or less ruined the rest of the collection for me. Your command of description, dialogue, human emotion, and, most of all, the life being lived by most Americans, renders almost everything else in the collection…pedestrian. Of course this is a matter of taste, but as I read the story I felt the glow of recognition in almost every moment and in retrospect I feel a great sense of gratitude.

    This may not resonate with you, but one of my favorite movies is “Tender Mercies.” As hard as they try — though often they don’t, really, at all — few movies capture American life on the ground with any accuracy. Although Horton Foote had a gift for creating the arc of a story as well as the dialogue to drive it, in my opinion his gift was ultimately spiritual.

    Although “Last Speaker” is the only work of yours I’ve read, it perfectly captured the balance between “There’s more to life than this” and “This is all there is.” To me, conveying the truth of this paradox is the central challenge of art.

    Thank you.

  6. Dear Carol,

    I am writing to you on behalf of Hil Publishing. We want to translate your short story into Turkish? Are the Turkish rights of your story available? Do you have any objection for our translation of your story.
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Best, Nihal

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