not too long ago, i read amy hempel's collection of short stories, reasons to live, because i'd heard and read some good things about what she's able to do with the short story form.
not always, but often, i was left with a feeling that can only be described as "buh?" when i reached the end of the pieces in the book. not that i didn't get what was going on or what ended up happening, it was more that i didn't get how i was led there.
i can appreciate surprises, especially in a form that necessitates brevity, but it wasn't that i found her endings surprising so much as i found them, well, buh? but the more i think about it, the more i think that maybe that's supposed to be my reaction, i don't know.
so first, i want to ask, if any of you have read any of amy hempel's stuff, what did you think of it? and then i want to ask, for anybody who may want to say anything about short story writing, what, to you, makes a brilliant short story (outside of the prose itself)?