introducing readers to writers since 1995

January 06, 2005

For Those of You For Whom My Recommendation Alone Is Insufficient

by Ron Hogan

JT Leroy says "The Scheme of Things" by Charles D'Ambrosio is the "best [story] I've read in a long time!" I'm glad he pointed it out to me; its October '04 appearance in the New Yorker totally passed underneath my deadline-addled radar. (That excuse doesn't apply to having also missed his nonfiction account of his father's agoraphobia, "Train in Vain," back in June; that I just overlooked because I clearly suck.)

"She had met him in Florida, in her second year of detention. Her special problem was heroin, his was methamphetamine. They lived in a compound of low pink cinder-block buildings situated maddeningly close to a thoroughfare with a strip of shops, out beyond a chain-link fence and a greenbelt. At night, neon lights lit up the swaying palm fronds and banana plants, fringing the tangled jungle with exotic highlights of pink and blue. They’d climbed the fence together, running through the greenbelt, disappearing into the fantastic jungle. A year passed in a blur of stupid jobs—for Lance, stints driving a cab, delivering flowers, and, for Kirsten, tearing movie tickets in half as a stream of happy dreamers clicked through the turnstiles, then sweeping debris from the floors in the dead-still hours when the decent world slept. Lance worked a second job deep-frying doughnuts in blackened vats of oil, dressed in a white suit." (from "The Scheme of Things")

D'Ambrosio has also published the short story "Her Real Name" in the Barcelona Review. And John Marshall reviewed D'Ambrosio's most recent collection of nonfiction pieces last October. UPDATE: Dan Wickett dropped a note to tell us about two other D'Ambrosio stories from the New Yorker (that were, it turns out, anthologized in various best-of anthologies), "Screenwriter" and "The High Divide." The latter comes under scrutiny from Christopher Frizzelle.

If you enjoy this blog,
your PayPal donation
can contribute towards its ongoing publication.