Last day of vacation, and it looks like Beelzebub wants me to spend it writing and reading-I put the dogs outside this morning only to find the cottage consumed by a cloud of flies. Then the flies covered the dogs. And me. Don’t know if the flies are this thick all the way to the beach, but there is definitely an apocalyptic ambiance.
So, obedience. Blake Butler wants us to write more, read more, write about what we’ve read. More. Will do. This morning:
Barry Graham’s “Cats and Dogs; Like Rain” from Thieves Jargon. The story violates my ban against substituting animal vulnerability for human complexity, but I loved it anyway for three reasons. 1, the image of a dog eating scalloped potatoes from the trash, 2, the noisiest character has the most to hide (I fall for that trick every time), and 3, the larger idea that negligence is so incredibly violent.
“Smoke and Mirrors,” kindly sent to me by the author Paul Byall –this story placed first in the New South fiction contest. A really fine piece of work that doesn’t summarize well, but it describes that condition of investing too much in a hollow relationship. You know it’s gonna be sad, substantial, and possibly-but no guarantees-redemptive, but what keeps me reading is the voice-a narrator who is all “I’m in control for ninety percent of this journey.” This tale is a heartbreaker, complete with a Crystal and a Kevin and a kitchen table scene to make you howl.