Richard Burgin, "Vacation"

A travel agent with issues has a lost weekend.

(from Ontario Review, #62)

A strange one. Mostly in a good way. Even more than Alice Munro and George Saunders, I Read A Short Story Today loves an unreliable narrator. Like sitting in the front basket of a crazy person’s bicycle. So this guy — I don’t want to give away his personal demons, but he has them, unbenownst to him, really — doesn’t know how to deal. He smokes up, drinks, does dirty things. What will he do next? Who knows? Hang on tight.
It’s not like this story didn’t have its flaws (some clunkiness, some bricks when pebbles would do), but it gets points for daring and adventure and dirtyness. It also gets points because it’s set in Philadelphia and doesn’t screw it up. Although, is 8th and Market the hooker district? It could be. I don’t know.
Round here, people are talking about how outsiders view Philadelphia. Because condos are the new kudzu and rich-ish white people are, supposedly, moving in to take advantage of this city’s cheapness and ridiculous tax abatement. (Shh, nobody tell them about the wage tax.) Or maybe they’re all Peter Forsberg fans. Or maybe, yeah, it’s because of that article in the New York Times this weekend, “Philadelphia Story: The Next Borough.” After reading, I wrote this.

Nothing Painted Blue, “Up w/ Upland”

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