J. Robert Lennon, “Breadman”

150119_r26013_rd-880A husband waits in line to buy focaccia from his wife’s favorite baking guru, the eccentric and popular Breadman.

(from The New Yorker, Jan. 19, 2015)

None of them looked at their phones. I did, because I was by myself, and because I lived most of my life at a distance from the things and people I loved. It was also a quality of mine that I invariably became the terminus of any queue I joined.

This story cracked me the hell up. So many snide little lines. I envision the narrator as a bewildered Louis C.K.-George Costanza hybrid, a troubled and snarky everyman obligated to play along with the Breadman’s ridiculous theater just to pick up some bread for his sick wife. The Breadman, meanwhile, isn’t necessarily a villain — just smug as all hell. He’s an artisanal baking genius and charismatic guru (he’s also maybe 5 percent Soup Nazi); you’d be smug too.

You can read this story, or have it read to you, here, and I say go for it. There’s also a decent interview with the author. If I’m going to read 100 short stories this year, as I tell myself I’m aiming to, I’ll need to start chipping away at the stack of New Yorkers on the coffee table. So much overdue homework.

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