Friday, March 20, 2009

Nebula Award Nominee: "Don't Stop"

Don’t Stop
James Patrick Kelly
Nominated for the Nebula Award: Short Story

Lisa Schoonover sees dead people. Her mother, her old track coach, neighbors. Somebody she calls Crispin. Crispin follows her everywhere, even when she runs. “Don’t Stop” tours through Lisa’s life over the course of one run.

In terms of running, Kelly gets most of the details right. I’d quibble regarding stretching before a run vs after the run or after a warmup job, but that’s really minor. Nothing in “Don’t Stop” rings false. This includes the craziness Lisa has felt over forty years of seeing Crispin and how she has been unable (for various reasons) to hold a steady job and how her hometown as being slightly off-kilter. She is.

“Don’t Stop” is a low-key story. Mellow. James Patrick Kelly inserts the reader into Lisa’s life and makes Lisa and her situation feel real, as if we are reading a non-fiction narrative article in Runner’s World (probably not Running Times, though) instead of a short story.

The title, and how it plays out in the end, is a little…the word I want to use is “precious”, but I’m not sure that’s right. It’s a bit too neat, too simple, too resolved. Overall, though, “Don’t Stop” is a solid story. I don’t know that I would consider it a standout story for the year, but it’s good enough.

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