Monthly Archives: November 2008

Richard Bausch, "1-900"

A guy calls a phone sex service but just wants to chat first.

(from The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction)

At first you think you know where it’s going because it’s familiar territory: Marilyn just wants to get the call over with. John isn’t in the mood yet and wants to get too personal, get to know her. But he doesn’t end up being her husband, or a killer in the next room, and instead we have this tricky little role reversal where he’s finally ready to commence the business of the phone call but she’s opened up a little too much, exposed her true self. It’s pretty brilliant.

Joyce Carol Oates, "Landfill"

A college kid is found dead in a landfill.

(from The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Fiction)

This story is amazing and heartbreaking, a crazy stream-of-conscious thing that jumps through time, and from character to character. So good. So sad. I assume it’s based on the true story I remember reading and hearing about.

Wells Tower, "Leopard"

A boy fakes sick to get out of school. Then he fakes fainting in the driveway on the way back from getting the mail. And a cop comes by all what’s this kid doing sprawled out on the ground. Also, there’s a leopard on the loose.

(from The New Yorker, Nov. 10, 2008)

With the leopard out there, the woods seem famous now.

I’ve been walking around with this one in my backpack, wondering when I would get to it. I savor Wells Tower stories, didn’t want to rush it, or waste it on the wrong mood, or when I’d have to rush. “Leopard” is an cool story, one that really captures a certain post-kid/pre-non-kid plateau. The kid spreading out the mail and laying down in the driveway was just so perfect. This story, one might say, ends before it should. Eh. It ends when it ends. Loved it.
Read it here.