Sunday, August 14, 2011

On "The Athlete" by Ed Falco (5420 words) *****

A few years ago, I read a book of Ed Falco's stories, published by a small press. It was probably about the time it began to dawn on me how many good writers there are out there, and how many are consigned to the oblivion of an audience of a few thousand, if they are lucky to find even that.

"The Athlete" is a piece of sure writing from someone who writes like a master of the form. It's about a man, El, who finds a woman who promises to change his life--or to rechange it--for he was once a married man, with two kids. Having lost out on that, for reasons not fully explicated, and on a basketball career because he was too small, he can now make something of himself. The story seems peaceful enough, until we hit its center, when something goes horribly wrong, and El is faced with a challenge that tests both his manhood and his newfound love.

Perhaps what I like most about this piece, however, is the dialogue--it's so simple and yet so true. "It's cold," one person states at a point in the story. It's a toss-off line that means nothing, that states the obvious, and yet it is exactly what someone would say in the situation, the way that we toss these obvious statements out just to have something to fill the air between us with. Read the story here at R.kv.r.y.

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