Hempel, Amy


Before I started reading about minimalism as it relates to simple living, I learned about the kind that pertains to literary minimalism. Minimalism of this kind is a style or technique that is defined by extreme sparseness or simplicity. The first author I seriously studied that used the minimalist approach to writing short stories was Amy Hempel.


–author Amy Hempel

One of the shortest and most powerful stories of hers is entitled “In A Tub.” She weaves her story at first with religious images and then moves to images of water. Those two images work together well since water or baptism or cleansing is part of many religions. Also, the thread of the beat is presented. Of course, these observations barely skim the surface, like all good writers that use Hemingway’s “iceberg theory.”

This story is so short, HERE is the Amazon link where you can quickly preview by clicking on the image to the left and shown below preview. Just go to the beginning. 


–“In a Tub” is the first story in this anthology by Hempel

If you read closely and think to yourself how many of the words and images evoked of water, containers, beats, and other ideas are alluded to in the story, you will be surprised how rich her writing is and how much is presented by Hempel in just a few paragraphs.

Hempel was born in Chicago, moved to Denver from approximately 8 to 16, and then moved to California. She later moved to New York and now lives in Florida. She teaches at the University of Florida and at the Low-Residency MFA program at Bennington College. When she was young, she dealt with the loss of a friend to leukemia, the suicide death of her mother, and several accidents in a 2-year span in San Francisco.

Her most famous story is “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried.”

Links for Amy Hempel:

The Art of Fiction in The Paris Review interview from 2003

Wikipedia entry

  6 comments for “Hempel, Amy

  1. April 9, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    Oh, I’m reading this for sure. A most excellent concept. Fascinating. I look forward to the author’s rich writing. The imagery is also captivating, both the author’s photo and the cover. Thanks for another great share, Denise.

    • April 9, 2015 at 4:36 PM

      You will enjoy it for sure, Silvia!

  2. April 10, 2015 at 6:17 PM


    • April 10, 2015 at 6:19 PM

      Sorry! I clicked the wrong button, what I was going to say is what an amazing head of hair Amy has!! Thank you for sharing and for stopping by my blog!

  3. hilarymb
    April 17, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    Hi Denise .. I knew her name .. but am so glad to have read more of her and seen your links to more of her stories … wonderful series this is .. cheers Hilary

    • April 17, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      Thanks, Hilary. I just think Amy Hempel is one of or the best literary minimalists!!

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