(from VQR, Spring 2014)
He still didn’t know whether the film had caused his downfall or simply pointed out that the downfall was inevitable.
He mocked Iowans and he mocked Mississippians. In Nevada he wanted to visit a brothel so he could mock both the prostitutes and their customers. He patted waitresses on their behinds as they walked past—that was part of the joke. He was a young man who acted like a daft rich uncle from a 1930s movie. He sang along to the dirty songs on the tape deck. He joked. He was funny. Ask anyone! Ask Ian Casey, who—Peter Elroy was sure of this—scrubbed the soundtrack clean of his own laughter at Peter’s jokes.
Even when Ian showed him the movie—screened on a sheet in his New York apartment, the spring after the trip—Peter didn’t get it. Surprised, yes, to see that Ian had edited himself out of every frame, that he’d turned a conversation into a monologue. But he still thought it was good, he believed (as he’d believed for some time) that he would become the most famous economist in America. Talk shows, news hours, op-ed pages. The movie would get him there faster, and when he watched it he saw himself saying wonderful, shocking things.
Later, he tried not to be too hard on himself for not understanding. There wasn’t a man in the world smart enough to see his own subtext.
Just a completely gorgeous story. The kind whose sentences demand instant repeat readings to admire their elegance and efficiency. So, so, so much fun to read this story. Here’s another part I liked:
Another thing technology had ruined, the ability to dial a number, let it ring, hang up. How often had he done that, only wanting to change what a girl was thinking, without her knowing he was the one who’d done it.
And now it’s time once again for the first time for…
Word This Story Taught Me:
aspic (n) a dish in which ingredients are set into a gelatin made from a meat stock or consommé
Yeah, that’s not pleasant.
(Personal challenge: 117 days/94 stories to go)