My life was over. I was a criminal. The worst thing a person could do, I knew, was to shoot another person. This time now, this waiting at deer camp, was the part you never saw on TV. The police were probably on the way, or talking to my father about what had happened and what would happen next. The longer he was gone, the more certain I became that he would not return. He would have no choice but to turn me over to the police. I would leave deer camp in handcuffs. My parents and sisters would visit me in jail, but there was nothing they could do. They could not change the rules. You couldn’t shoot someone and not go to jail. Having shot someone, I felt, I no longer had any claim on their affection.
80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
Every night the sounds were different. Helplessly cognizant, I formed mental scenarios while drifting in and out of sleep. One memorable night, I tossed and turned in a metalworking shop. From the far end of the second-floor hallway came the powerful rip of my mother-in-law’s rough-cut saw. From below, on the living room’s foldout couches, the intermittent thrum of welders’ torches—a wild hissing as the sisters’ noses sparked and soldered invisible objects. Beside me, Elida’s finishing touch: the high-pitched burr of a polisher perfecting a metal surface. Elida was slight, and she dressed in precise, quiet colors. She sat with her hands folded, wore clear nail polish and almost undetectable makeup. You would never have imagined that such a stark little person could produce such sounds
Haruki Murakami will publish his first short story collection in nine years this spring. Men Without Women will feature five previously published stories (including the controversial “Drive My Car”) and one new story. The book comes out in Japan in April, but there is no word on when we’ll see an English translation.
Our girl soars over the heads in the crowd gathered outside. Keeping arms tight at her sides and feet pointed straight back, she rises steady in a line, past a public school, a church, gaining altitude past skyscrapers, cityscape, hills, mountains, sky. Soon she is grazing the surface of the land, a bird searching for a meal as it skims the water. This is the up and the down, this is our ending ready or not. Our girl will be in the atmosphere, part of the weather. And she will fall. But when she does, it will be with the rain.
At the party, Ellen counts a dozen zombies in half-assed costumes, a shredded T-shirt, a smear of fake blood. When she moves, she sweeps her cape dramatically and it feels good. There is dance music and liquor bottles on the kitchen counter and clear plastic cups. Not a shred of food, just booze. She picks up a cup and sees a fat black spider in the bottom and screams.
‘It’s fake, silly.’ Ursula plucks the spider from the cup and nests it in Ellen’s hair. In the driveway, Ellen zipped the girl into the Statue of Liberty costume she’s wearing. At first, she wanted to be a slutty witch, but Ellen talked her into the Statue of Liberty—the tallest iron structure ever built! How could she resist?
The girl vanishes into the party with her fake torch. The song changes. Bodies clump together in the living room. Ellen watches them stomp and thrash. A zombie sucks on a ballerina’s neck.
'Did you know an elephant has as many neurons as a human brain?' she says. 'Did you know that they have nerves in their toenails that help them understand sound?'
‘I didn’t know,’ Ellen says.