Monthly Archives: February 2010

Claire Keegan, "Foster"

An Irish girl goes to live with another family for a little while.

(from The New Yorker, Feb. 15, 2010)

She leads me into the house. There’s a moment of darkness in the hallway; when I hesitate, she hesitates with me. We walk through into the heat of the kitchen, where I am told to sit down, to make myself at home. Under the smell of baking, there’s some disinfectant, some bleach. She lifts a rhubarb tart out of the oven and puts it on the bench. Pale-yellow roses are as still as the jar of water they are standing in.

I’m not sure what to say about this one except it was excellent. Just a really thoughtful, smart story that keeps you hooked with each sentence. This is one of those stories that belong in scholastic anthologies; it would make a fine topic for some kind of English class. Got a classic, timeless vibe, with a couple mysterious moments I had to reread and contemplate.
Thanks for the recommendation, Uncle Bob!

Richard Bausch, "Something Is Out There"

After her husband gets shot earlier in the day, a wife in a small town starts to get the sense that things are unraveling.

(from Something Is Out There)

At first, I was the one battening down the hatches, fearing a story of lame/poignant domestic tension. I mean, there’s this aunt that just won’t shut up. It took a few pages for Bausch to up the ante, but he did it kinda brilliantly heaping on the tension little by little. By the end I was loving it. SPOILER ALERT: Short stories like this, ones that don’t resolve their primary conflict, get a lot of shit for copping out and not delivering a payoff to the loyal reader. Sometimes, I agree with that feeling of ripped-offness. But not with this one. I like not knowing what comes next. Uncertainty is the whole point.

Roberto Bolaño, "William Burns"

A guy is charged with protecting two women in a remote house with a whole lot of windows.

Anyway, these women had two dogs, a big one and a little one. And I never knew which dog belonged to which woman.

(from The New Yorker, Feb. 8. 2010)

This a weird story. The narrator contradicts himself without blinking and the whole thing is told in a dreamlike fog, where you are told about things you can’t picture, where the characters are strangely accepting of the strangeness.

Read it here.