Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Short Story Wednesday, "Dr. H.A. Moynihan from A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN bu Lucia Berlin


I found this at Toadvine Books,  a lovely mostly used bookstore two miles away. I shouldn't be buying books because I have toted perhaps 50 bags of books to library donation bins. But I always meant to read this collection and it was a nice clean copy. Such nice people running the store too.

This is one of the scariest stories I have ever read. And Jerry might not want to ever read it. It is the story of a girl helping her grandfather, a dentist, out over a summer. It describes everything about his very eccentric practice, but most of all it describes her aiding him in pulling all the teeth from his mouth and installing dentures that perfectly resemble the teeth he has pulled. The description goes on for pages and if the man hadn't been such a mean old bastard, it might have been harder to read. I love descriptive writing and Berlin is a master of it.In fact, I can't remember ever reading such a fulsome description of anything, much less a dental office. Can't wait to see what her next story is about. 

Jerry House  



Todd Mason 

Casual Debris


Margot Kinberg said...

Hmmm...I can see how this would be a scary story, Patti. And, yet, I can also see how it might draw a person in. I have to say, I like the title of the collection.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Interesting. Don't know her.

I finished the last Patricia Highsmith collection after all. What a strange woman she must have been. Reading AN ELDERLY LADY MUST NOT BE CROSSED by Helene Tursten, but so far it proves what I've always believed: when you have an offbeat, unexpected success, maybe it's best to leave it alone rather than doing an unnecessary sequel. The first one was much better.

"Elba" by Marly Swick from MONOGAMY (originally titled A HOLE IN THE LANGUAGE - both titles arer stories in the collection, her first). FRan is a 40 year old woman, living with her wheelchair-bound mother in Florida and supporting themselves by selling her paintings. She is gobsmacked (as the British say) to get a Polaroid picture in the mail of a young woman holding a baby. This is her daughter and grandson. When she was 16 she got pregnant and was disowned and thrown out by her father. She and her mother left together, and she gave up the baby for adoption without ever seeing her. Should she invite them to come meet her? And then there is a bit of a surprise twist in the end. I thought it was very well written.

George said...

I'll have to check out Lucia Berlin. I like scary stories...when I'm in the mood.

Jerry House said...

I'd like to read this one, Patti. I will have Kitty black any reference to teeth before I read it, though.

Rick Robinson said...

Reading A Surprise For Christmas, edited by Martin Edwards, a 2021 British Library Crime Classics anthology of older stories. I’d read “The Hole in the Wall” by Chesterton before, also “Death On the Air” by Ngaio Marsh, but some others are new to me.

Casual Debris said...

I have one for this week:
The Phantom Coach

Thank you!

Todd Mason said...

Welcome back, Frank!

I have one, too, Patti:

TracyK said...

The bookstore sounds great. I don't think I could read that story though.