Susan Steinberg, “Court”

9781573661294_p0_v1_s260x420A woman remembers the year her parents divorced. 

(from Hydroplane: Fictions)

My father went, Crazy.

My mother went, Crazy.

They thought I couldn’t see the fight. But I saw his hand flash through the air.

So I took the rocks to the car.

The neighbor girls could hear the war from their stoops.

I could still hear it clear.

I blared the horn to drown it out.

I was captain of my boat. I was thinking of my treasures.

I didn’t want to like this story, which was originally published in American Short Fictions Winter 2006 issue. The writing style is very affected (think Gary Lutz). There are many paragraph breaks, as you can see, and a lot of repetition. Sometimes she even rhymes! I can’t believe she’s pulling this off, really, but she is. She won me over big time.

Because the prose is so stylized, I would sometimes forget just what it was she was writing about, but I became engrossed with the rhythm and beauty of the language. This story is about all of these things: divorcing parents, cars, blue shirts, boys playing basketball, becoming the person you want to be too late to do anything about it, unrequited love, catty girls on stoops, and shitty mothers, though Steinberg might disagree with me on all counts.

Listen to her read a story from her new collection, Spectacle, here.

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