This story is a lovely illustration of how to take one of those factual tidbits we often run across and turn them into a compelling and short story. It’s also written in the second person.
The author starts by writing about the Santorini eruption that wiped out the Minoan civilization 1600 years ago. He starts with an almost clinical, scientific description of what you would have seen if you had been standing on a beach on Crete at the time of the eruption. He quickly begins to introduce descriptive and poetic elements, along with people and relationships. Before long, the ‘you’ of the story has a family, and an urgent desire to fulfill.
What started out as a remote, impersonal “Imagine if” story has quickly become a heart-wrenching race to the finish that has the reader rooting for the unnamed protagonist and ends with a huge compelling message for us all.
Shivers up the spine!
This Selected Shorts episode features a great short interview with Jim Shepard who explains how his obsession with the Santorini eruption turned into this beautiful, moving story (and how it helped him in his everyday life!)