marginalia || “Family,” by Bret Lott

John Mutford over at The Book Mine Set has graciously allowed me to host Short Story Monday–which, for this week, shall be in tandem with my own personal short story goals–it’s a happy week for short fiction, ladies and gents. It’s a celebration of all things, er, short. Okay, that was lame. Still. Let’s have a merry time. :)

UPDATE: Attesting to my lack of hosting skillz and lack of sleep, I was incredibly unclear as to what Short Story Monday is. Well. It’s where we feature the short story we’ve read–the short story form has always been like a pale little sister to the novel, at least it is in these dark days, and we all want to change that. Why? Because a) it’ll be good for my future (I’m a Creative Writing major, humor me here), b) some of us just want that tiny whopper of a tease and all those jam-packed sensations in a couple of pages, and c) maybe we’re just lazy, haha. There.

* * *

“Family” by Bret Lott, from The Difference Between Women and Men. I got this book while I hung out at National Bookstore (because that’s what all the cool kids do), while P. was off gallivanting/being responsible. I felt cheated when I started reading it, haha. Because with that title, I thought I was in for my usual Domestic Hullaballoo, but no – Bret Lott is bizarre, with a good dose of hyperrealism thrown in. I had no idea what I was getting into.

“Family” is the first story of the collection, and it begins with: In the heat of the fight, they forgot about the children. It had potential, I must stay, and I’ve always been very judgmental of the opening lines of written work – it must be the Thesis Statement Mentality in me, thanks Ateneo Philo. As the story chugged along – the parents scrambling around the house for the places they’d last seen the children, and the places where the kids usually hung out – there was a very simple, very evocative stream of consciousness spilling from the parents’ minds as they scrambled.

And then they found the children in the cooler. Yes, the cooler. The carry-on kind where you keep your beer and ice candy. That kind of cooler.

I don’t know how it happened. We just suddenly veered off to the husbandknowing where the children might be – boys and girls, if your children go missing, would the cooler be on the top of your list of Where to Look? It was strange. It was strange. It was strange. The children were tiny, Barbie- and G.I. Joe-sized (I appreciate the organic-ness though; when the mother had found an empty bedroom, she mused on the Barbies and G.I. Joes strewn about). The daughter was doing aerobics, and the son was watching TV. And they were grown up. And I was so weirded out. I read through the end with my face constantly in its WTF Mode. Maybe this is its appeal, its genius? That the reader wasn’t warned? And. Is this Speculative Fiction? I really am scratching my head here.

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8 comments

  1. This was a submission to you (the above short story)? And the contest is people submitting short stories? Just wanna be clear? Yes, that story sounds odd? Maybe a little James Joyce thrown in there
    a)completely random
    b)switch from reality to non reality dime like
    c) purpose of story in question

    1. Oh goodness, I’ve been dreadfully unclear, haven’t I? I’ve updated the entry, Kris. Thank you for catching this. :)

      The update is basically an echo of what I’m planning myself for this blog — a Short Story Spotlight. :) We basically feature a short story we just read, dedicating a post to it, as one would do with novels or collections. :)

  2. Hi there! Thanks for hosting this week!

    Here’s my review: http://bookmineset.blogspot.com/2009/11/short-story-monday-emile-zola-fairy.html

    I’m not sure why you can only access my page via a cached version.

    1. Thank you! I’ve updated the post! :)

  3. I would love to participate! What do I do next, haha :)

    1. Hi! You write an entry on a short story you’ve read, and then you leave a link to that entry here. :)

  4. Okay, here goes:

    http://rainbowrama.vox.com/library/post/short-story-monday-frederick-barthelme-the-law-of-averages.html

    It’s not just one story though, it’s the book itself. Will review one story next time, hehe. :)

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Ooof, it doesn’t matter, haha. Rebellious! Haha. I’ve updated the post — thanks so much. :)

      PS – Come back Wednesdays and Saturdays, I’m hosting my own meme, Short Story Spotlight if you want moar short fiction love. :)

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