Reading Matters

Lawson: ‘One of the boldest’ writers

Here’s a young short story writer to rave over.

Her name is April Ayers Lawson and her debut collection of stories, “Virgin and Other Stories,” marks the beginning of an auspicious career.

Lawson is this year’s Kenan Visiting Writer at UNC Chapel Hill. She’s won the 2011 George Plimpton Award for Fiction, as well as a 2015 writing fellowship from the Corporation of Yaddo, an artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

What I love about her stories is their complications. They are juicy and delicious. Try this one from the story, “The Virgin,” which originally appeared in the Paris Review.

“The wedding had taken place in a cathedral carved into the side of amountain, at sunset, at the very end of summer. It was near-perfect, married only by Sheila’s family having to deal with the arrival of an estranged, drunken uncle -- someone ha dpromptly called him a cab before the ceremony -- and by his mother arriving just as the quartet began the first piece, in the skirt and blouse she’d worn the evening before at the rehearsal dinner. He was quietly humiliated -- he knew she’d driven down to Atlanta after dinner, to meet a man she’d been chatting with on the Internet -- and annoyed by the lean look of her, her too-long, graying hair. He did not want to think of her growing old alone. But the tension faded the moment Sheila, in her ivory gown, shoulders bared, approached the altar. Though she moved toward him, he was stirred by the sensation that he was approaching her, and he felt none of the fear other married men had warned him about.”

Think of this way: How many emotions did this young man experience in the short span of this paragraph?

Scott McClanahan, in a blurb on the book jacket, calls Lawson “one of the boldest young writers alive.”