The First Two Pages: “The Short and Slightly Speculative History of Lavoisier’s Wife” by Amber Sparks

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

On Saturday, February 29, Amber Sparks and I will be part of a Short Story Extravaganza at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA—celebrating each of our new short story collections: Amber’s And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges and my own The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense. This is actually the launch party for my new collection, and I’m thrilled to be sharing the stage with Amber because of how much I’ve admired both her short stories and her dedication to her craft—and enjoyed knowing her as a person as well, in the times my wife Tara and I have gotten together with Amber and her husband socially over the years. (Tara is actually going to be moderating our conversation; she seems nice too.)

Amber has always been ground-breaking—visionary even—in her short fiction. Roxane Gay called her a “master of the fantastic,” and the Washington Post has praised how she “uses the surreal and fantastic in stunning, surprising ways.” In a smaller way today at the First Two Pages, Amber breaks fresh ground in two new directions. First, the title of her story is the longest I’ve ever featured here! (As I write this post, I haven’t yet checked to see how it’ll even fit on the website….) And second, in the opposite direction… well, let’s just say that she’s not analyzing the entire first two pages of her story; in fact, the passage she’s analyzing is shorter than the title itself.

See for yourself in the essay below, and check out more about Amber at her website. And for those readers and fellow writers in the DC area, please join us on Saturday, February 29, at One More Page!

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.


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