Susan Tepper grew up on Long Island where many of the stories in Deer take
place. Before settling down to study writing at NYU and New School,
she was an actress, flight attendant, marketing manager, tour guide,
singer, television producer, interior decorator, rescue worker and
more. has published over 100 stories and poems in journals and anthologies
worldwide. She has received five nominations for the Pushcart Prize and
has been nominated for National Public Radio Selected Shorts
Series. Additionally, she is Assistant Editor of Istanbul Literary
Review, and hosts the reading series FIZZ at KGB Bar in NYC
with Susan Tepper
worrying about those damned trees. I don’t want to hear another
word about them. They’ll burn until they’ve had enough. And
that will be that"
Reviewed by Alex Thornber
and Other Stories is short story
writing at its very best. From the first sentence of the first story
in Tepper’s debut collection of stories, her writing demands
nothing short of your utter attention and engagement.
Tepper writes economically, she focuses on emotion and action rather
than lots of scenic description and yet she manages to carve a
crystal clear image in your mind as you read. Tepper’s key trait
however, is that she gives nothing away to readers who don’t work
for it, and that is what makes this book so enjoyable. With that in
mind, please note, this is a long way from a nice lazy read.
writes in the sort of way that would gain her entry into the school
of Chekov and Carver, every punctuation mark in this slim volume sits
in the perfect place. That is not to say that her prose is
laborious, far from it. Tepper’s tone bounces across the pages in
the spritely manner of the deer that populate these stories.
roots of the stories themselves are invariably concerned with the
various emotions and feelings which all of us experience. Yet,
the jealousy, intrigue, love and despair in the average lives of
these men, women and children are heightened with their placement in
time and the close and ever present connection to the Vietnam War.
opening story, Deer,
tracks the tenuous relationship of a young couple as they drive
through town talking, arguing, teasing each other and making up.
Despite the references that place this story in a specific time, the
tale could easily be told in any number of situations, and probably
has been many times before. The young couples' argument itself
wouldn’t be out of place in a daily soap or teen drama, however
Tepper drives this story off the road and into a wonderfully
disconcerting and slightly confusing place.
The young girl, the narrator of this story, brings something
different, something extra to the situation. She muses about the two
of them running over deer and deliberately says things to provoke the
boy driving, whom she calls "Monkey." It is Tepper’s acute
observations, her honesty and her delightfully understated prose that
truly illuminates this story, and indeed all the stories in this
It is difficult to pinpoint any standout stories in Tepper’s
collection because every single one is magnificent. The rest of the
stories here feature, at points, an ex-Beatles-follower, a child
relocated to his grandparents in Italy, a couple who re-animate Elvis
and some kind of group home. Full of strange characters and
is truly amazing about Deer and Other
Stories, and Tepper’s writing in
general, is that mystical deer flitter in and out of all the stories,
often without cause or explanation, yet their presence is not
disconcerting or baffling; it is a strange feeling that Tepper
creates with her smooth and polished prose. As you read the latter
stories in the collection you may find yourself hunting the deer
yourselves, invariably to find that you have already missed them.
Notwithstanding the slightly odd situations and the lingering deer,
these characters, and the short episodes of their lives we read on
the pages, are, at the heart of everything, deeply human; we can
believe in the characters, their reactions, their emotions and we
want to know more about them. The writing shifts from different
narrative perspectives with each story and still we are captivated.
Tepper knows her characters so completely and she knows what to tell
us, and how, so that we best connect with them.
collection has both magical and slightly disturbing elements yet
remains completely believable as straight talking literary fiction.
Deer and Other Stories
hangs together so well as a collection that you could read it from
cover to cover and still remember each and every individual story.
Tepper demonstrates her magnificent writing talent, vivid imagination
and ability to entertain so perfectly within this volume that her
next collection cannot come soon enough.
Read the title story
from this collection on Fictionaut