Private: Lisa Glatt

This post was written by guest blogger Carrie Hoffman.

When I was going through the slush pile for the Mississippi Review Prize last fall, I was sort of amazed at how many entries seemed to come from beginning writers (which is why I advise all good writers to enter these contests). But I happened upon one story that blew me away. And it was so good that when I was asked to read the final ten finalists, narrowed from hundreds, it was still the best.

The story–“Geography of the Mall”– won the prize and the writer, Lisa Glatt, teaches in California. I’ve just learned that she has a novel, A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That, coming out next year.

Glatt seems to write dark and gritty stories about young girls and sex. Some of the grittiness and heart in her work reminds me of everyone’s favorite New Orleans resident, Pia Ehrhardt.

Glatt’s prize winner begins with a teenager giving a man a hand job in a shopping mall parking lot while on break from her yogurt store job. Here is an excerpt from another Glatt story,
“The Clinic that Ella Built”:

This is where I talk to the girls who come to us itching and burning and foul. This is where they stand, thirteen and pregnant, twelve and misinformed, thirty and oh so sorry.

I am a hand attached to a clipboard that is coming at her from inside a tiny window. I am nails and cuticles and a white gold wedding band. This is where Kate Carter signs her name on a dotted line, so quickly that the signature is barely hers.

Kate is famous here, returning month after month with various problems. Syphilis in February, condyloma and genital warts in April, and then, in July, the first of three unwanted pregnancies. The first one was immaculate, she explained. I haven’t been with a boy in months, she said, straight-faced, looking right at me.

Then it’s a miracle, I said.