This first-person story told by Celestine, a thirty-something female butcher, living in the town of Argus falls in love, or in lust, with Karl, a knife salesman. He becomes a free loader of sorts. She becomes pregnant. What is touching about this story is the deftness with which Erdrich handles an adult woman who has never has sexual relations, yet she reads about them every night in novels. "In the love books a baby never comes of it all, so again I am not prepared. I do not expect the weakness or the swelling ankles. The tales of burning love never mention how I lie awake, alone in the heat of an August night, and panic." Celestine knows what she wants and is matter-of-fact about it all. It's told in present tense. "Knives" was first published in Granta
magazine in 1986.
The narrator becomes friends with a volatile and jealous woman who is five months pregnant. The father of the child is in and out of prison mostly, in the beginning, for escaping. Both women work on a construction site weighing trucks. Eventually the father kills a federal agent so now he'll never be free. The child is born and doesn't register any weight on the truck scales. "For as it turned out, he was too light and did not register at all." The theme, for me, is that many, too many, people do not register in the eyes of officialdom, government. The story explores a hard-won friendship between two women.
The story is told in first-person POV and past tense and takes place near the beet fields of North Dakota. "Scales" was first published in 1982 in the North American Review, and subsequently included in Best American Short Stories in 1983, and then included in Erdrich's collection, The Red Convertible, 2009.
First-person story about a seven-year old girl who stays at her grandparent's farm while her mother has a baby. A guard dog, Nero, is the character with the most stubbornness or tenacity. He continues to escape, despite the ever increasing height of the fence, to mate with Mitts, Priscilla's cocker spaniel. A mirror relationship with Jurgen wanting to marry Priscilla but having to first fight Priscilla's father. Jurgen doesn't relent. The story is also about power. Nero is finally overpowered and subdued and killed a slow death until finally shot. "Jurgen (i.e. power) was inevitable."
"Nero" was first published in The New Yorker and then included in the 2014 O'Henry Prize Stories.