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Milwaukee Native's Short Story Collection Explores Language and Translation

New Rivers Press

Karen Lee Boren left her hometown of Milwaukee years ago, but it’s never been far from her mind, her heart or her writing.

Boren's new collection of twelve short stories, called Mother Tongue, features a remarkable array of characters. The stories were written over a span of twenty years, with characters and themes inspired by her own life experiences.

"Part of the writing of the short story is getting to know (the characters). Character is one of the key things that I'm interested in in writing, it's an intimate connection that you're making with them," Boren says.

Although the connection to a protagonist in a short story may not be as detailed in a novel, Boren compares short stories to the experiences of encountering different people in your daily life - from long car rides to brief encounters at a party.

Preferring short fiction over novels, Boren finds a sense of "relief" in spending time with a character for just six to eight pages and then being able move on to a new story. "A short piece of writing is in some ways more like poetry than it is the novel," she says.