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Guest writer, Ostlund, shares short stories

By Kyra Smith-Cullen in Arts & Entertainment

February 16, 2012


Kyra Smith-Cullen/Eagle Eye

As part of their Speaker Series, the Women’s Studies department invited audiences to hear published author Lori Ostlund read one her short stories on Thur, Feb 9 in the Hall of Flags.

Ostlund’s collection of short stories, titled The Bigness of The World, has received several awards, including the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Stories.

The stories, which are all fictional, have been described as “freakishly focused and darkly atmospheric” by Pamela Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In her introduction of Ostlund, Professor Gayatri Devi said that she “couldn’t put it down”.

Ostlund read her title story The Bigness of The World, which is about a brother and sister and their strange baby sitter.

The sitter, named Ilsa, had quite a few strange habits, like her refusal to use acronyms. The audience quietly laughed when her parrot, rescued from the shelter, greeted the children with offensive terms.

The inspiration for the story is unusual as the baby sitter, because Ostlund says that the story came to her after hearing a colleague tell her own story.

“The baby sitter was fired, not for locking her charge in the closet, but for using the father’s tooth brush,” Ostlund said.

Some students attended because it was required for a class; others, like Jodie Roush, who is freshman majoring in Electronic Media, went because friends were going “I’m glad I came,” Roush said afterward.



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