Short and Sweet

I'm not much of a short story reader, but every once in awhile a story will strike my fancy. This happened with Ed McClanahan's hilarious story, "How's that again" in his book O the Clear Moment. Ed's wife has been after him to get a hearing aid, but of course, he is not ready to hear this. One day at the car wash, he discovers why he needs to listen to her advice.

"I roll the window down halfway (for the purpose of telling him to stop mumbling, fer crissakes) and hear instead 'Take your foot off the brake and take the car out of gear!' (as any competent audiologist can tell you, 'put' and 'take' sound remarkable alike under certain atmospheric conditions), but before I can sort out and obey these apparently contradictory instructions the car lurches forward - 'lurch' is going to be the operative word from here on - and I see to my horror that rushing toward me is this great hideous spongy pink alien thing with long flabby tentacles slapping at my fenders, my hood, my windshield, and now these vile slimy pink tendrils are actually inside the car, flippetty-flappetty-flopping through the still half-open window, invading my personal space and flinging nasty car wash juices all over me and my glasses and my nice upholstery and my new goatsuede jacket, and I frantically trying to poke them back out with one hand while fumbling for the electric window button with the other, but the more tentacles I push out the more come flopping in behind them... "

And you can imagine the rest.

Jane McCafferty's Thank You for the Music is another book to try. This collection of short stories is about the silences and the connections that can develop between strangers. My favorite is the story "Dear Mr. Springsteen" which shows how a love of music creates a momentary bond between an aging lonely white woman and an African American boy.

Happy Reading.