Richard Russo, "The Whore’s Child"

An old nun attends a college creative writing course and workshops her memoirs.

(from Harper’s Magazine, February, 1998)

A sharp, bitter story within a warmer, sharper one. This is an excellent, fast-paced read that sets its scenes with modest detail and multi-dimensional characters. The language isn’t beautiful, and the subject matter is unromanticized. That said, the tone is inviting and the ending is satisfying. There are also some telling peeks into the short story workshopping process I enjoyed quite a bit.
I found the story here, but I don’t recommend you follow the link. This version was speckled with typos that, surely, the copy editors at Harper’s corrected before it went to press. Given that all the typos would slip through spellcheck (“car” instead of “ear,” “bit” instead of “but”), one would guess somebody actually re-typed this story. But, why? Who would take the trouble to bootleg a short story? Makes the reading experience a bit cumbersome, but an uplifting thought.

This story came recommended by reader Rebecca Tolley-Stokes. Thank you, Rebecca!

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