Megan can’t get over her daughter running away with an old guy or her husband carrying that stripper off stage.
(from Zoetrope All-Story, Summer 2005)
There were some interesting and sorta subtle techniques in this one. Example: Scenes with the husband were all past tense, others were present. This turned out to be sort of helpful in keeping things organized, since this isn’t really a story where things happen. It’s more like a series of states of being. Well, some things happen.
Another Example: When the narrator is lying, she points it out, even though we already know she’s lying. As in (and pardon the quotes, they’re mine): “That’s an old picture. She was six, I said. She’s twelve now, I lied.” Now, it had already been established that the picture was of the daughter, and the daughter was twenty years old. Multiple choice: The “I lied” thing is:
A) a little lazy — the author didn’t realize the redundancy.
B) an overcooked attempt at plainspokenness, so as not to confuse readers.
C) meant to imply the narrator’s consciousness of her own dishonesty, an inner sting which “I said” would not clarify.
I’ll go with C. Why? Because this was a smart little story. Also, while the narrator turned out to be the sort of person she didn’t like very much, she wasn’t amoral. She knew the sting.
Rainer Maria, “Ears Ring”