She knows how to smile well, and she does it more than most New Yorkers. She doesn’t wear her hurt on her sleeve, either. If you’d only just met her, with her diminutive stature—eminently huggable—and her unguarded, almost impish smile, the dark tenor of many stories in her debut collection Dust might take you by surprise.

Reading them, I found myself transported to the soft, inconsolable grief of youth. I shook hands with the devils who broke my heart and the semi-tortured creatives I’d once longed to grow into. Amy had rolled those characters over in their dusty graves so that I might ogle their confused inner darkness. Knowing her personally, I wasn’t surprised so much as I was intrigued. Reminded of the great distance between one’s interior landscape and one’s exterior, the person versus the persona, I interviewed her in hopes of bridging this gap...

Author Amy Dupcak recalls being an introspective child, fascinated by her own imagination. It is no coincidence that her debut collection of short stories, Dust, tumbles headlong into the dreamy space of adolescence like a whirlpool of recovered memories. Read on for a sample from Dust and to learn more about Amy’s thoughts on “strong female characters,” on older men dominating the youths of girls, and why her teachers teased her for putting her feet on her desk...

Dupcak teaches writing to kids and teens, in workshop format, and this access she has to the pangs, turbulence, and drama of adolescence has undeniably fed her talent for creating stories. These stories of youth are richly textured. The protagonists vary in gender, age and circumstance, and are believable, sometimes agonizingly so, because many of these adolescent themes are universal; we remember tender spots of our younger selves....

In September, a long overdue biography of Jackson came out by Ruth Franklin, shedding light on the writer’s amazing catalogue of work (including the classic short story "The Lottery") and Jackson’s subtle exploration of the desperate isolation of women, particularly married women, in American society.  Also in September, writer Amy Dupcak released her debut short story collection Dust. I was reading both the biography and Dust at the same time, and couldn’t help but see a series of similarities in these two gifted writers.

 

While Jackson explores certain fringe elements and the impact of isolation, Dupcak gets deep under the skin of a tribe of young people who at first seem lost, but ultimately reveal the resilience of the human spirit. I caught up with Dupcak, discussing her new story collection, her thoughts about Jackson’s work and her top five short story list....

EWN:  Where do short stories fit within your life as an author? Primary form to work with, or something you write when an idea hits, or …?

Amy: Although I’ve finished one novel and am currently working on a second, I’ve always been drawn to the short story form. I prefer writing subtle moments of impact to high-stakes drama, and since an epiphany is often at the heart of a short story, I can focus on a character’s personal realization or observation rather than a show-stopping climax....

Looking for great summer reads? To help you out, we've once again rounded up recent publications by some of our most talented and entertaining New School alumni authors.  From novels to short stories, from ethnographies to memoirs, from poetry to children's books, there is something for everyone. Immerse yourself in these summer reads and be sure to take us on your journey by using the #newschoolalumni hashtag!

Amy Dupcak Interview - Amanda Miller
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It’s not that Amy Dupcak is unaware of the real world, it’s just that she finds it easier to live in the world in her head. She loves to interact with other humans, but she also really needs her alone time. She has been described as always happy, yet she has a penchant for the macabre and suffers from migraines. The protagonist in her first novel, The Grid, sees a pattern of lines that happens to be the underlying fabric of reality, but people think she just has schizophrenia. All this and more in this month’s episode.

Amy Dupcak is a lot like her prose. On the surface: bright, elegant and meticulous. What lies beneath however, in both the woman and her work, is a relentless commitment to illuminating life’s quirky, raw underside.

 

In her searing debut short story collection, Dust, Dupcak unflinchingly gets under the skin of a tribe of fascinating young characters that offer insights beyond their years. Anchored with lush tangles of prose, Dupcak’s stories not only touch but often scorch the heart....

The obvious irony was that she wasn’t from India.

 

She didn’t know where she was from, ethnically speaking, but she could pretty much count on not being Indian. Why her adoptive parents named her India was not a story she liked to tell.

 

She bore the burden of being beautiful. A burden few others could stand to hear about. Her friends said she didn’t have the right to complain. She didn’t have the right to downplay it either, but that didn’t stop India from trying. She donned low-brimmed hats and lopped off her hair. She wore chapstick, oversized sweaters, and ugly shoes. Somehow this only added to her charm. There’s nothing more beautiful than a girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful....

photos by Dolan Morgan 

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