Monday, November 26, 2012


Literally a Quick Longread

He was on his office line explaining Isaac and Danny’s absence from morning classes when his cell went off, the special home ringtone that he never ignored. “Hang on a sec,” he said to the school secretary.

“They go out!” Bonita said without preamble. “No here!”

“Are the boys at school?” he asked the secretary.

“No, sir.”

An hour, Bonita guessed, when he asked how long they’d been gone. As was always the case when he and Bonita spoke to each other—neither remotely fluent in the other’s language—the information exchange was crude yet functional. It was she who’d phoned him to report his wife’s car crash, she who’d fielded the notification from the highway patrol. She who’d had only to say “La señora” and then wail to let him know.

Antonya Nelson crams a helluva lot of plot into "Literally," her short story, in this week's New Yorker.

10 Comments / Post A Comment


^No idea what happened there, but thumbs up.

Dirty Hands

@ImASadGiraffe I thought that you'd decided simply to be a sad giraffe for a while.


When I moved last year I somehow lost a photograph of my long-deceased mother that, while not especially important either in time or place, was a photo I considered a bridge I could cross any time I wanted to feel close to her. Like Suzanne with her cell phone, I pretty much went ballistic searching for it, and I still can't think of it without mourning my losses (of both my mother and that photo) all over again.

Beautiful story. Thank you for linking.


@Gussie I am not proud of this, but: I lost my shit at a Sprint representative when he promised me that my voicemails would transfer to my new phone. They did not, and lost in the transfer was the only message I had from my dad who died in April of 2011. I eventually retrieved it from the old phone itself, but for 16 hours between the time I realized it was gone and the recovery I was inconsolable.

The funny thing is, it's not even a very good message- just Dad telling me about what they were going to do in his knee replacement (the thing that eventually killed him.) He doesn't even sign it off with "love you, kid!" like he did every other message. It is, literally, ephemera. A thing to be discarded when I called him back. And to this day I can't believe THAT'S the only one I have. But that's life, I guess.


@angermonkey Oh, I totally hear you, and I'm glad you got that message back! I lost my mom at age 10 and don't have any messages, but for years I hoarded what my family jokingly called my "shrine": a long-dried rose I stole from on top of her casket, a $1 deer figurine I bought her for the last Christmas we were together, the last picture ever taken of her, things like that. Funny how even the most innocuous things mean the most in the end... the stuff you forget within heartbeats but look to with so much longing and meaning after the person you love is gone.


It was good, but also kind of awful?

The level of detail packed into everything felt really stilted and... not purple but purple-prose's well pressed business suit wearing cousin.

fuck fuck fuck

@Onymous there was also a perfectly terrible description of a "flighty intern who had flirted outrageously and then claimed sexual harassment". cool.

emily eileen

@fuck fuck fuck
Yes....I cringed at that description.

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