As a reader, I often find it difficult to pin down why one story grabs me while another one does not. It’s magic—if not outright wizardry, at least a largely inexplicable trick of language and imagination, verbal sleight of hand. I poke and prod at the question some, although in general I’m content to let the mystery be.
One thing I’ve come to sense is that the stories which work for me are ones where I feel a stronger connection to the protagonist. Nothing terribly magical there--if I don’t care about a character, well, it’s difficult to get much of a reaction. But, of course, the magic is in how to go about creating that sense of connection.
Often, it’s rooted in effectively evoking common experiences and shared desires. Those of us who have children can relate to this month’s featured fiction by Catherine Luker. Certainly, there is something familiar in Lydia’s frustration and exhaustion, as well as her fierce love . . .