I’m going to do something a little different: I’m going to blog my way through a book. And maybe I’ll do this a lot. I don’t know. But I’m going to do it with Best New American Voices 2010, which was edited by Dani Shapiro – and I just got it.
Anyway, there are 16 stories in the book, written mostly by students in the top MFA programs across the country. I figure it’s important for me to read them since a. I hope to be them in a few years and b. they have a pretty good shot at becoming famous and I like being first on the bandwagon.
Also, SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to be discussing the endings. A lot.
The first story in the collection is “Bethlehem Is Full,” by Boomer Pinches (what a name!) of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It is good. The basic premise, looking at how a relationship can survive (or not survive) after an abortion, isn’t particularly new, but certainly isn’t stale. But dropping the couple on a whirlwind Australian vacation immediately after the procedure is pretty cool.
I think the strength in this story comes from the little dog that follows the couple around. It’s diseased and they take it to a pound (a considerable detour) in the hopes of saving it. Of course this trip puts a strain on their relationship and, when coupled with the abortion trouble, the relationship’s strength is tested to the breaking point. But the ending, I think, of Keith asking to put the dog down himself, proves to me that he, at least, will do whatever it takes to make the relationship work – letting this dog die, while not exactly equivalent to performing an abortion, shows an attempt on his part to understand what Amy went through. It’s sweet, in a morbid kind of way.
But I’m really confused about the part with the crocodiles. Why he jumped in the river with them is beyond me. Yes, he was stressed, but I don’t think that’s enough to put your life in such danger. That didn’t detract too much from the story, it just made me wonder how, well, sane this guy is – when I probably shouldn’t have been.