A young mother sings “I-ee-I-ee-I, I think I’ll have an affair” just like her own mom did.
(from McSweeney’s, #16)
Some stories are poundcake and some, like this one (despite its relative shortcakeness) are layered. In that sense this is everything a short story should be, with every word and phrase counting, carefully chosen. Tight, smart, occasionally ambiguous is a sneaky way. There’s this moment that knowing what really happened is obscured, and you wonder about it and then you wonder if it matters, or what the ending means in light of the two possibilities.
(And yeah, some stories are bundt cake.)
(And, okay, sorry, that I-ee-I thing is from an old song by The Low Road.)
Now you’re probably wondering: Who would win in a battle between Pia Z. Ehrhardt and Poppy Z. Brite? Hmm. Far as I know, I’ve only read one story by each — Brite’s was “The Devil of Delery Street,” from McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Secrets. Link to my write-up here. — but here goes.
Pia: A cool, thoughtprovoking family-ish drama.
Poppy: A cool, scary, Catholic horror story.
Links to I Read A Short Story Today:
Advantage: Not me.
Pia: New Orleans.
Poppy: New Orleans.
Advantage: None. What were the odds of that?
Pia: A lab named Eddie.
Poppy: A one-eyed dog (make and model unknown).
Advantage: Poppy (especially if the dog wears an eye patch).
And the winner is: Pia Z. Ehrhardt. It was a tight race (and hardly a fair fight, since the Enchanted Chambers book had a lot of writers working within genre-riffic boundaries), but in the end Pia slashed a swift little Z into Poppy (who promptly wrote a story in the blood).