CSU graduate and acclaimed fiction writer Aryn Kyle shared some of her fiction with students and faculty Thursday night at the Hatton Gallery, presenting one of her unpublished short stories.
Kyle’s short story, titled “Nine,” examines the life of a young girl, Tess, whose ninth birthday is on the horizon at the beginning of the story. “Nine” explores her struggles with her unstable family life, having only her father and a nanny, Mrs. Stewart, to take care of her.
The gripping narrative was spiced up with vivid descriptions and metaphors, and a dash of humor to break the heavy tension that would settle on the room as she read. The story bounced between Tess’s difficult time at school and her awkward situation at home when her father brings a new woman home one day. School is complicated for Tess, who “lies” about horrible diseases that she and her father have. The school counselors, Dirk and Deborah, talk to her with puppets and ask her what color her insides are, a secret she keeps from her fellow students in fear of embarrassment.
Kyle drew the audience into the little girl’s life, giving a shocking last line that made the room shiver. Deanna Ludwin, the head of the Internship Department, was in tears.
Ludwin described the emotional tension that Kyle created and how it had her hooked and hanging on every word. She felt physically drawn in as the story moved from an outward look at Tess to something of a first person view, as her thoughts were revealed to the listener.
“She just reels you in,” Ludwin said. “You are the kid.”
Nikki Skillern, a freshman Open Option major, attended the reading for extra credit in her 20th Century Fiction Class. She felt that Kyle’s descriptions and style of writing gave her great insight into the world from the eyes of an eight-year-old girl.
“I thought it was a great story,” Skillern said.
“Nine” was a story Kyle claims was built around the idea of a character, as some of her other stories are. She also says she is very interested in the “nuclear family”, so most of her stories focus on the basic father-mother-child structure.
“I like exploring people’s desires; what they want, and what they would ultimately be willing to sacrifice to get it,” Kyle said.
Kyle, who grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, is a CSU graduate, receiving her bachelor’s in English before going onto the University of Montana to receive her MFA. Her first published short story, “Foaling Season”, was bought by The Atlantic Monthly before she graduated in 2003.
“I had no idea what to do after that,” she said.
She moved back to her home town to try to settle her life into place, holding various odd jobs to help pay off her college loans, which included anything from being a receptionist to painting houses.
When she moved back to Grand Junction, she noticed a great change in her town, something that she said inspired her to expand “Foaling Season” into her debut novel, “The God of Animals.”
“The money had moved in,” she said. “The people who had lived there for decades were being pushed further and further into the outskirts. I started to wonder what would happen to those people.”
Kyle currently lives in Missoula, Montana, and is working on her next collection of short stories for publication.
Staff Writer Edie Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org