Writer’s Reading Corner – Sarah Brentyn #amreading #shortreads #literature #FridayReads

Stories that affect us don’t always have to be full length novels.  Sometimes, they’re short stories, and today’s author shares how one in particular changed her life and helped shape her writing career.  Welcome Sarah Brentyn!

Winning the Lottery

It won’t surprise most of you that the last book I read is not a book. It’s a short story.

I was introduced to “The Lottery” during a lit class for my undergrad degree.

It spoke to me.

It said something like, “Hey! You, there! College chick. Check me out. I’m short and spectacular. I mean, seriously, I’m awesome. Read me again!”

I did. And still am (obviously) many years later.

One dark and stormy (actually, it was clear and starry) night in January, I decided to revisit this favorite. I fell asleep thinking about it, woke up thinking about it.

I could not stop thinking about it.

Her writing…

She weaves different moods seamlessly throughout this piece. The setting in contrast to the plot is perfect. The dialogue is fantastic. The foreshadowing is just enough to keep you guessing. The characters’ personalities, which we learn a lot about, are both expressed and implied. How does she do all this in so few words?! 

The story…

It’s surreal yet believable that a community would behave this way. How far are people willing to go to hold on to tradition? To pacify their superstitions? I wonder what it would be like to grow up there, how it would change you, if you’d be able to form healthy attachments, what your relationships would be like. I wonder if the lottery will continue. I wonder what would happen if they stopped. I wonder how long it would take for everyone to agree or if they ever would. I wonder… 

Jackson gives readers a psychological slap. She makes us uncomfortable in a captivating way that’s not easily dismissed. The build-up, revelation, and subsequent reactions of characters leave readers with questions that intensify curiosity and creativity. I don’t care how silly this sounds—I’m going with it. Full force. (You have been warned.) This story changed my life.

It showed me what can be accomplished with a few, well-chosen words. It fed my desire to think, analyze, and contemplate. It appeased my fascination with human nature. It set my mind ablaze.

It is one of the stories that set me on my path. Short fiction can be done. And done well. It’s something I strive for when I sit down to write.

Author Bio

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi.

She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them.

When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies.

She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

She is the author of two collections of flash fiction: Hinting at Shadows and her latest release On the Edge of a Raindrop.


Blurb (On the Edge of a Raindrop)

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop.


Contact Information (blog, website, etc.)

Book Links:

On the Edge of a Raindrop

Hinting at Shadows

Author Page


Blogs / Social Media:

Lemon Shark

Lemon Shark Reef

Twitter, Google+, Website

47 thoughts on “Writer’s Reading Corner – Sarah Brentyn #amreading #shortreads #literature #FridayReads

    1. That’s awesome. I would recommend this to anyone and certainly use it in classes. I never had the chance (with either age group or curriculum) to actually teach it but it would have been amazing. There is so much opportunity for discussion. Thanks, Staci!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I saw a short film of The Lottery in junior high and was blown away by the message. Weirdly enough, I was just thinking about it a week or so ago. It’s a story that has been lodged in my memory from those long ago years. For me, it ranks up there with the Monsters Are Due on Maple Street by Rod Serling. Great choice.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I wonder if all writers have one of these books in their histories, one that woke them up or changed their lives or inspired so deeply the read hung on for decades. What a wonderful review, Sarah, as well as a peek into how the book led you down your writing path. Great post. Thanks to you and Teri!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey, Diana! 🙂 Nice to see you.
      I think they do, don’t you? I mean, if they think on it a bit, I’ll bet most writers have some story or book or even a passage that has stayed with them and inspired them in some way. I have many. The Lottery is definitely one but other short stories and poetry that I haven’t read since grad school or earlier still make me smile or cringe just thinking about them. (You should read this one if you haven’t already.)

      Thanks, Teri. I hope to see a lot of what inspired writers here at the reading corner.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Huh… I remember that story from middle school,some 40 years ago. I don’t recall all the details and now want to reread it. But I remember it, and others from that time of reading. What an intriguing idea, the one story that made a big difference; the “few well chosen words that set one on the path”… Hmmm…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha! I know exactly what you mean. If everyone is saying, “You HAVE to read / watch / try this…” I’m not likely to run out and do it. But, if you do get a chance, you *could* try this one. Sometime. If you feel like it. Maybe. 😉 Thanks, Lilyn.


    1. Ah, Geoff. I really think you’ll like this. It makes you think about so many different things. (Sorry…I’m trying to write everything on here without spoilers.)

      It was published in the 40s and, I believe, gained Jackson some hate mail and the publication some unsubscribers. So, you know, it’s got to be good. 😉


  4. Pingback: Reading Links 2/13/18 – Where Genres Collide

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