Friday, October 17, 2008

On "Mr. Inspirational" by Kirk Pynchon (920 words) ***

"Mr. Inspirational" is what I'll call here a "talking story." What I mean is that it's a story you'd hear someone tell rather than write. Such stories are first-person narratives by and large, and they sound real, and personal--and genuine. One of the difficulties, sometimes, with fiction is that, well, it reads like fiction. We write in ways we would never tell a story. When was the last time, after all, in a conversation, that your friend Francis said something like, "Joe sat down at the bar; Sam, the bartender, was a surly sort who'd just lost two hundred dollars on a horse, and he wasn't in the mood for guff; 'What'll it be?" he asked Joe, swaddling a stack of newly washed glasses in a towel like a baby"? There's a certain faux quality to fiction. When written like "Mr. Inspirational," however, that faux quality is pushed down and what emerges is something you might hear around the water cooler at work or at a bar or at church--or at a funeral. Thus, the piece seems more immediate. I never did varsity sports, but this guy seems to have. Read the story here at A Cautionary Tale.

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