Marissa Perry, "The Invisibles"

A troubled kid starts hanging out with local troublemakers.

(from Zoetrope All-Story, Summer 2008)

“Did you say ‘straightened arrow’?”
“Yes,” my mom says.
“That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Why is that funny?”

“Because there’s no such thing,” my dad says, and smiles.

“What are you talking about?”

“There isn’t any fucking arrow, Tess. There’s just the
straight and narrow.”
“Oh, go to hell.”

I’m not sure how I feel about the “leave ’em wanting more” approach. One the one hand, if you’ve done it right, you’ve impressed your audience enough to keep ’em coming back and to wonder about the unrealized possibilities. On the other: Your audience is not satisfied.
“The Invisibles” is a marvelous bit of storytelling that ends before its time. The characters, particularly our endearing if wayward narrator (who hangs out with jerks and sneaks into houses), make us think about this little world. Everything’s sad and complicated, and confining. And I wanted to spend some more time there, get a glimpse of how things will work out, or not work out. I wanted more. But there is no more. But what there was so good. But I want more still.
Read an excerpt here. Then buy the issue for the rest. Then that’s all there is. Oh I should relax. The story was right on.

3 thoughts on “Marissa Perry, "The Invisibles"

  1. vorgefuehl


    I was just having those same thoughts about another writer who likes to have unsatisfying endings, raymond carver. if you do it really well, it makes you look like a total genius, but then again, the reader is always going to be frustrated to some degree.

    anyway, I read your site regularly and wanted to ask you if you had any recommendations for good flash fiction – anthologies or single author, either one.

  2. Patrick Rapa

    Hi, I’m not much of an authority on flash fiction, but I must say that one 3-mini-book set of works by Dave Eggers, Deb Olin Unferth and Sarah Manguso was fun and fast-paced.

  3. Jack Butler

    Great idea for a blog! Anyway I found your site while searching for the author you reviewed here: Marissa Perry. Her Zoetrope story is good, not great, but I found a spectacular story she published in the recent Tin House titled “Trespassing.” Check it out. Definitely a strong young writer who leave pretension at the door, which is kind of rare of late.


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