Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Made X & O Successful?

Hi everyone!

So before Kate Horsley presented on Monday, I talked with a few people about how much we liked her work. A couple of people said she was their favorite author that we've read so far. I agree. I enjoyed her work very much. And it got me to wondering, what made her works so successful? (I mean with our group, specifically. I don't know how successfully they've sold or anything.) What did you guys think she did that made it so much fun to read her works? Was it the truth, which she said she always tries to put in her stories?

I realize there is already a topic about favorite X & O stories, and I'm not asking that. I'm asking what you guys think about her writing style, and what you took away from her talk on Monday. Will you try to put the truth into your own stories more now? Were you already putting the truth into your own writing, and are you more aware of it now?

You don't have to answer all these questions, but I would like to hear your thoughts.


  1. I think what made X & O successful was how personal it was and meaningful. I think you can tell right away when authors put a lot of thought and emotions into their work or they have this urge to tell someone what they discovered. I also believe it was the truth she put into her works. Themes and ideas that we can relate to and understand and make us think of them in different ways.

    There is also the way she ends her stories. Most of them kind of start sad, horrible, dismal, bleak, but then she ends her works with hope or the other side of the coin. She doesn’t make it all tragic, but kind of a stalemate situation. There is no super happy ending and no tragic ending. There is no ending in the way that life still continues even though tragic and happy incidents happen. There is the bright side and the dark side. I think a good example is when she was telling us about her father. He was abusive, but he also took care of her when she was sick away from home. It’s not black and white it is full blown color. There is love and hate, fear and confidence, despair and hope. We don’t know what life is going to hand us, but that life continues. Sorry to go all philosophical.

    1. I think speaking philosophically makes perfect sense, especially when it comes to Kate Horsley. Like Karla said in her response below, she seemed very spiritual. (If you see this, Karla, I definitely got that vibe!) I loved hearing her talk because she seemed so put together and at peace with the world--what I mean by that is easy to see in her first story. You have to be at a certain place--either spiritually or in maturity, whatever you want to call it--to write about a true molestation that happened to you, and at the same time to include some good parts about your abusive father as well. She said she added that later, and I can understand why: that would come with maturity, and with the stalemate situation you mentioned, Brittany. Neither entirely dismal or happy, but true.

  2. I agree that she has been my favorite author thus far. When I had finished reading the first short story I knew I was going to like the rest of her writing. Besides the fact that each story is interesting, her style of writing is what really got me. Her language is simple yet adequate. I understood everything she said and didn’t really have a feeling of having to re-read an entire paragraph to grasp what was going on (although this is not true for “Marla in Space”).

    Also, reading the Introduction and realizing how some of these stories had truth and others you had to read for yourself to understand made me more curious. She was very truthful in the first story. It can’t be easy to include a molestation that really did happen in a story that will be published. She immediately gained my respect because I see her as a brave woman that was able to overcome that.

    Once we met her, I was surprised at how spiritual she is, and not in a Christian or God-like way. She just seems to see things in places that I can’t and you can see this in her writings. Did anyone else get this vibe from her?

    Also, I think she is unique and to be successful in many industries you have to add a "wow" factor, and I personally think she has that.

    1. Yeah agree with what you said Karla. She doesn't have this religious vibe, but some sort of spirituality that makes her writing interesting and we can admire that quality in her.

  3. I agree with you guys about her honesty and that spiritual "vibe" she gives off. Like Karla, I also knew just from reading "Rat" that I was going to like this author's work. It was incredibly brave of her to write down what happened to her as a young girl, without any fuss or metaphors obscuring it. I also really enjoyed her unique perspectives on existence and wisdom, seen in stories like "The Oracle," "X & O," and "Marla in Empty Space." I also enjoyed "Luna Moth" because it reminded me a bit of sad-but-good coming-of-age stories like "Stand by Me." Overall, I think I liked her work the most so far because she doesn't beat around the bush, burying a real story in a mess of fiction. She gets to the point, actually has an interesting point, and tells the truth.

  4. I think that what made X & O the best read for me so far is that she portrays the flaws of humanity in her works. As she said she always writes about some messed up people. I feel that by writing about those messed up people many other people see themselves in her characters. Maybe not a mirror but characteristics. I also like that she addressed many of the larger questions in life without straight out asking them. For example "what is life really?" or "why do we keep hanging on?"

    Her work is, as others said, meaningful. I feel that there is a lot to be learned from these stories and maybe not only on the first or second read. I feel like this book is like a sort of delicacy in which it gets better the deeper you go. Maybe the third time around you would notice a specific quality that hadn't stuck out to you the first and second time. With this book I am sure I will be picking it up and reading it again and again years from now. It is one of those books that you aren't satisfied with the first read. And you must read it again.


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