Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.

11 April, 2017

Glen Pourciau, "Invite"

The story is told in first person point of view and past tense. It's about ten pages long and details the self-esteem smashing experience when the narrator was a young man in eighth grade. The narrator  has carried his painful experience for over forty years. With his wife, he attends a book signing party thrown by close friends. Then, the 8th grade culprit is also there. The physical pain he experiences is palpable to his wife and she comes to his rescue. "The sight of him angered me, and the anger hit me like a blow. I could no longer hear the man beside me, who'd been talking to me about antiques. I had a glass of wine in my hand and I tried to take a drink, but after I got the wine in my mouth I couldn't swallow on the first try and didn't know if I'd be able to get it down my throat."

Pourciau delves into the pain of being on the receiving end of cruelty in front of peers and its effects into adulthood. "Sometimes when I was sitting in my office at work, if I had an idle moment or was having a bad day, the question would come to mind and wait to be answered."

The theme for the story, for me, is that words and treatment of others does matter and can have long-lasting effects and also that sometimes confronting the bully can be cathartic. Also, that a loved one can be counted on for kindness and empathy.

"Invite" is included in Pourciau's collection of the same title. It was published in 2008 by University of Iowa Press. He has a new book coming out from Four Way Books entitled View.