Gina Ochsner, "Thicker Than Water"

Traveling vitamin salesman/activist/uncle comes to visit but his worldview doesn’t quite jibe with modern Latvia as young Ada understands it.

(from The New Yorker, Aug. 22, 2005)

I’m not sure that plot summary/teaser thing really fits, but it’s close. This is the second Gina Ochsner story I’ve read for I Read A Short Story Today. The first was “Elegy in Water,” a pretty, crazy mermaid story (from May 19). “Thicker Than Water” has far less water in it, and it’s also set closer to real reality. But there’s the same tipsy feeling of whimsy mixed with pain, harsh reality tempered with humor and warmth.
I also would like to point out that this story has something resembling a conclusion. Like, a change totally occurs. This differs from many of the stories I come across, which make a point of minimizing the action and building up to some kinda nothing-ever-changes slide-whistle wink at the end. I like plot. I like action. The other way’s good, too.

OK, I especially enjoyed the way “Thicker Than Water” begins, so I have pasted it here for you:
In the spring of 1988, Vasya Brkic, waking from a dream in which she was a wolf, bit her husband’s neck and killed him in the bed they shared. The following spring, Marti Cosic, a saxophonist in a klezmer band, went crazy and killed his fellow band members-all seven of them-then beat himself to death with his saxophone. One year later, after swimming naked in the newly thawed River Daugava, Semyon Iossel, an unemployed engineer, built a flying machine and died after falling from a great height.
Here‘s a link to this story.

The Mountain Goats, “Masher”

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