This book is a collection of short stories. I read the first one this morning.
“I begin to catalog my selfishness, and the list is long and unyielding.”
So thinks the first-person narrator of the short story “The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Party.” He is an overmatched young husband with a three year-old son and an extremely pregnant wife who has been confined to “bed rest” for weeks. Add to the cast of characters his visiting parents who have travelled eighteen hundred miles in order to be with the family and help them through this difficult situation. The mother has recently survived a serious surgery herself and is probably not the best choice as a comforting influence at this time. The father? Well, he’s more sympathetic to his son’s challenges, but also continues to follow a life-long policy of always taking his wife’s side in any argument with their son. The piece de resistance? It’s also almost Christmas, a holiday that the narrator doesn’t like due to the excessive (and premature) celebration of it throughout his childhood.
The story is not without humor, though – as one might suspect from the title. The narrator’s often feeble efforts to cope with his situation climax in his decision to have a party to celebrate the first football game of the Bowl Game Season. (“I am a person who cannot get excited about Christmas but who can get excited about Texas Christian and Northern Illinois and a sham of a bowl game.”)
Does the narrator grow during the story? Perhaps a bit. He and his dad spend the last page or two pondering ’the meaning of life’ as they watch his son play with legos during the second quarter…
I’ll give the story a thumbs up and will look forward to reading the rest on this collection, which was on my personal top ten books to be read this summer list. I first learned about it via the blog of The Missouri Review. What about you? Are you familiar with this author? What are some good short stories or short story collections you’ve read lately?