And now, the dinner party of our discontent.
(from Bobcat and Other Stories)
“Meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, meat,” she said, many more times than seemed amusing or rational. At ﬁrst I had thought she was just being kind of cute, or silly. Maybe just suddenly exuberant? She spent essentially all day every day with her baby, so maybe she was only breaking free a little bit amidst the adults, without really remembering how, but then as the “meats” continued, her voice revealed a little bit of harshness or even madness in those short syllables. So she knew about Ray and Lakshmi? A part of her knew, and it was making the rest of her crazy, was my diagnosis. She was going to lose her mind if she said one more meat
Maybe the “fateful dinner party” isn’t really a trope. Maybe it’s something I pretend is a trope to tease a friend about her affinity for certain kinds of art-house films, wherein grievances are aired and secrets are revealed around a carefully planned meal of some import. And, my, how decorum crumbles and well-I-nevers fly about the room, despite the fancy candle holders and well-dressed guests.
But whatever. The fateful dinner party in “Bobcat” is hardly well-planned, and most of the decorum crumbling has either already happened in the unseen prologue or is reserved for mere mentioning in the rushed, epiloguing end. Instead, we get the tension of this guest knowing about that guest’s affair. How the wife doesn’t know. How the one author’s story of a bobcat tearing her arm off is suspicious, because aren’t bobcats like little and cute? The tension is delicious. It’s the point here. And it’s spooled up in refreshing, exhilarating prose. Just some really wonderful sentences.
So who cares about the fateful dinner thing? Or the sigh-bore-gasmatazz-tic thing where we’re made to read about writers. (New York writers, you guys!) Because that’s my baggage. This story’s better than all that. And I don’t feeling like feeling cynical after reading something this right-fucking-on.
Read it here.