Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Dodson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dodson. Show all posts

16 November, 2015

Todd Dodson, "Actuaries"

A guy is sitting at an outdoor cafe in Philadelphia planning to break up with the woman he's with. He plans on telling her that people might be "born damaged" or "get damaged." He's still confused and messed up, damaged by Cly's suicide even though it's been nine years. He's reading an article about risk and catastrophe. Cly was an actuary. "The article is about insurance and says that unlike other forms of risk, catastrophe is unpredictable."

Both the front and back stories start in present tense which works very well here, especially in that the narrator is still reeling from Cly's death. Her suicide is still right there in the narrator's present life. How does one ever get over that kind of experience? Probably don't. Then the story moves into past tense for the backstory.

There is an interesting explanation when the narrator was interviewed about Cly's suicide and he tries to explain why "she wasn't fit for living." The writer evidently bothered by this, much like most people when discussing suicide, seemed to fidget.

"This newsman and her family, they made a cut-out of her and buried a paper doll."

"The moments when we simply didn't have the strength not to love one another."

"She told me how the insurance companies were unlike casinos. They consider the odds of turning up a twelve on two dice to be one in thirty-six, while the insurance companies base risk on the previous one thousand rolls, twenty-nine of which happened to be a pair of sixes."

"Actuaries" is in the current, number 11, issue of upstreet.