Thursday, January 21, 2010

Favorite Unknown: Julie Hecht

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Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

Julie Hecht.

Julie Hecht is primarily a writer of short stories, all narrated through the perspective of an eccentric Jewish neurotic, who's perpetually working on a series of photographs of her world-renowned reproductive surgeon, prodding others to adopt a macrobiotic diet, removing the polo player from various articles of clothing, chatting up cashiers and waiters, and steeling herself to face those really trying times with Mozart operas in her personal audio device and a prescription of Xanax in her purse.

And always, always observing the absurdities of life with a perplexed honesty at how things have come to be the way they are.

I've heard her described as an acquired taste, but I've loved her from the get-go.

Her two collections of stories are Do the Windows Open? and Happy Trails to You. Her novel The Unprofessionals, which relates the story of her unnamed narrator's friendship with the world-renowned reproductive surgeon's son, should be read between these, although Hecht's style is better suited to short works.

Was This Man A Genius? describes a series of interviews Hecht conducted with the late comedian Andy Kaufman for a Harper's profile that was deemed too odd to run in the magazine.

Give her a try when you're in the mood for something a little offbeat.

Booking Through Thursday

9 comments:

eveningreader said...

I read Do the Windows Open?, and it was quite good. I will have to pick up one of her other books...thanks for reminding me! I honestly wish people would read more short fiction, just in general.

Alayne said...

This author sounds really fabulous. Thanks for mentioning her. My pick is at The Crowded Leaf.

Jennifer said...

I have not read anything by her, but shall soon fix that. My BTT: http://www.rundpinne.com/2010/01/booking-through-thursday-21-january.html

Michelle said...

Sounds just zany enough to be interesting! Thanks for the recommendation!

jlshall said...

Haven't read anything by Julie Hecht, and I really need to. But I've heard a lot about her Andy Kaufman book - it's been recommended by several people. And anyone who could take on Kaufman and come away still alive and kicking (and writing) is intriguing to me!

Melissa Wiley said...

Well! Adding Julie Hecht to my TBR list.

My pick would be the great Fred Chappell. Will have to post on this topic...thanks.

SFP said...

I love Fred Chappell. Wonderful wonderful novels (I've not read his poetry) and a very nice man to boot!

Sara K. said...

I'm an evangelist for Julie Hecht too—though I understand why she might not be for everyone. (By the way, I don't think her character is Jewish actually. It's been a while, but I think she has maybe one Jewish grandparent, but is nonetheless neurotic about it).

careful reader said...

one ancestor of the religion
is the only mention in the title story DTWO
No religious references elsewhere.
suspicious of Germans as many people are -
not neurotic.