Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Megan Vs. Short Story: Round 3

Listen! Do you hear that? It's the sound of silence. The parents are grocery shopping. The 10 year old cousin with the new cell phone has departed for home. The dogs aren't barking. It's like a tiny miracle - which is accompanied by another little tiny miracle, I think I've read another short story I liked. Can it be? Especially, since, again instead of taking peoples' excellent recommendations, I've struck out on my own.

I decided to try another short story from the New Yorker on the train on my way to New York. It's only fitting, no? This one's from the July 27th issue (this year again!), and is entitled "The Five Wounds" by Kirstin Valdez Quade. P.S. If you don't know why it is that I'm "fighting" short stories - you can read the origins of this feature here.

The story opens on Holy Tuesday and finds thirty-three year old Amadeo Padilla preparing to be Jesus in an all too realistic re-enactment of the crucifixion. Amadeo has big shoes to fill because the last "Jesus" actually went so far as to have himself nailed to the cross. Amadeo is certain that if only he can suffer enough and focus enough on Christ and getting it all just right, he will be able to redeem himself from the mistakes in his life that land him with an ex-wife, a house he still shares with his mother, not to mention an eight months pregnant teenage daughter. A teenage daughter who happens to turn up on his doorstep on the very week when he's determined to be the best Jesus he can be. As the day of his "crucifixion" draws nearer and he struggles to come to terms with the way his life turned out and relate to a daughter who is nearly a stranger to him, Amadeo has a lot to learn about where the true path to redemption lies.

I was totally absorbed in this story. The train stops disappeared for me as I stepped into Amadeo's life if only for a few pages. He's not exactly a lovable character, and crucifixion re-enactment is a bit disturbing (as well it should be), but it's easy to understand the regrets he has in his life and how he wishes that this one thing would set things right. He and his daughter, Angel, are beautifully fleshed out in such a short time. She is endearing in her half-child, half-woman way, and it's actually suspenseful wondering if the pair's father-daughter relationship can really be restored even in the most inconvenient of circumstances. Quade even leads the reader to a conlusion which isn't spelled out to the letter, but isn't so veiled as to make the story feel totally unfulfilling.

Maybe there's hope for me and short stories yet.

P.S. You can read this one online.

(Oh, and by popular demand, I've decided to give myself the full point for the last one. Thanks guys.)

Megan: 2, Short Stories: 1


  1. Yay! It looks like you're winning the battle!

  2. Funny, I feel the same way about the 10 year old with the cell phone at times too!

  3. Two short story suggestions:

    Cowboys are my Weakness, by Pam Houston. I LOVED this collection of stories.

    And, of course, my own Demo Tapes. *grin*

    Hey, they are short pieces! And you've already read a lot of them (haven't you?) -- that should make it a slam dunk.

  4. I can't say I'm winning my battle with short stories--at least in terms of reading one a week like I had planned--but I am enjoying them when I've read them at least. :-)

    I will definitely have to read this one if it won you over for a short while. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!