Alexi Zentner, "Touch"

The dangerous lives of logging families.

(from O. Henry Prize Stories 2008)

The men floated the logs early, in September, a chain of headless trees jamming the river as far as I and the other children could see. My father, the foreman, stood at the top of the chute hollering at the men and shaking his mangled hand, urging them on. “That’s money in the water, boys,” he yelled, “push on, push on.” I was ten that summer, and I remember him as a giant, though my mother tells me that he was not so tall that he had to duck his head to cross the threshold of our house, the small foreman’s cottage with the covered porch that stood behind the mill.

I love a story like this, one with this complete world where you know the rules, you know all the ways things can go wrong, know the likely scope of the action. It’s not that it’s simple, not exactly, but that it’s well-defined. So, we know the father is going to die at some point, it’s said outright by our narrator, and we know all the things that can kill you in these harsh Canadian hinterlands, but it’s still a surprise and heartbreak when it happens. Very powerful stuff.
Here‘s Alexi Zentner’s site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>