Some of you may not be aware that my home state is a hotbed for writers. It’s said there must be something in the water, because we’re everywhere. I have to admit, there is really nothing cooler than literally WORSHIPPING a writer like Lee Smith and then seeing her in the grocery store buying soup like she’s just some regular person. (True story! Happened to me!) I also was lucky enough to meet Kaye Gibbons once, although I interrupted her while she was eating a chicken wing which is not when most people want to be approached, even if you are claiming to worship them. Maybe you haven’t heard of these people. Maybe you’re not into Southern writers. (What’s wrong with you?)

When I was in college, I had this amazing teacher named Jill McCorkle. She was, at that point, everything I wanted to be: she was funny, wicked smart, and an insanely talented writer, plus she had this great job teaching at UNC-CH. She’s still pretty freaking awesome, as if evidenced by her new book Creatures of Habit, which I am reading right now. Let me be clear here: I read a lot of short stories. A LOT. As in, collections and the hundred-odd I get from my students. Not many are very good. And it’s precious few that even come close to these in Jill’s new book. She just keeps getting better and better, and I want to be just like her. Still.