• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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You’re Just to Good To Be True

I read this story by Ben Marcus on the way home from the city. I don’t really like short stories all that much, but I loved this one. In part because it was like a novel in a nutshell. Partly because I felt tense the entire time I was reading it. I also thought that the details had god in them; the narration so assured I did’t need to worry. And most of all it felt real.

Is is real or is it Memorex?

9 Responses

  1. When you said you stayed “tense” the entire time, I had to go read it before commenting. Boy. You got that right. Tense and I swear, my heartbeat stayed up too. I absolutely LOVE stories that do that to me – and this one did. Brilliant writing. I got Martin to a “t” and Jonah creeped me out. I hated when it ended. I want to know what happens.

    I hope you’ll share again when a story hits you!

  2. So unsettling on so many levels…It was torture to read it but I couldn’t stop myself. Boy am I glad I never got married and had kids!

  3. Of course it’s real. All stories are real.

    Here’s a real one: When I was a student in the Graduate Scribbling class at the University of Never-ending Maundering, my fellow damned souls used to ask me of my tales, “Is this one true? Is that one true?” and I would tell them, “My little lambkins, they are as true as you want them to be.” This response displeased them, and they determined I was not to be trusted.

    • And they were right. I am not to be trusted. This morning I had time to read the story. It didn’t take too long for the story to lose me, but I slogged through it anyway, thinking, Well, at least it didn’t lose me on the opening line — let’s see what might be here. And so I went, and so I saw, and so what. This what: I saw no grammatical or typographical errors. There’s something of value in getting those technical basics straight. I couldn’t tell you if I always do, having flunked out of finishing school. Other than that, the story is neither real nor Memorex. It’s a standard New Yorker story: safe, competent, and sufficiently tasty without being filling. Perhaps with me it will linger a time, sprouting like a seed or spreading like a stain, and I will come to appreciate its greater depths, presuming they exist. Or maybe not. Hard to tell. It’s a fine story and did well what it is supposed to do: it occupied space in the New Yorker without causing significant offense. That we should all be so fortunate, verdad?

      • You pissed at the New Yorker, or just not impressed with the story? As I read it, I was thinking it was written more from the father’s angle and wondered how Jonah’s perspective would sound. Or perhaps the younger brother, delighted to be in a fraternity of two. Overall, I didn’t find it fluffy.

        The way a 9 yr. old mind works: Went to the dump with my daughter — always a fun experience — and as we left the woman at the scales offered her a lollipop. After checking for my okay, she took it and thanked the woman (it was sweet, after all), but as we drove away my daughter asked, “How old will I be when people stop offering me lollipops?” I laughed and said I didn’t know. Later during the ride home, the kid announced, “I think I’m going to start wearing black eye shadow and using black nail polish.” “Are you going to do that just to annoy me?” “No,” she said, “To annoy the people who keep trying to give me friggin’ lollipops.”
        Therefore, I found the story more real than canned.

      • I found Marcus’s story to be a fine piece of New Yorker fiction.

  4. Real real real true. Real. True. Real. The marriage sucks. The sex sucks. Parenting sucks. The doctor really sucks. Younger brother is innocence damned. And the kid?

  5. It’s real. I kinda liked Jonah, crackling with that weary energy of his. Lester and Rachel will do okay, too. Martin needs to get a clue, but that seems unlikely.
    Thank you for recommending this story.

  6. I hate being tense. I hate Jonah too. And Rachel is on my doodoo list because apparently Martin’s the one with the problem although she eventually concedes Jonah ain’t right.

    I think the encounter with the doc might have been done better but that would be hard to do within the confines of a short story. Plus it would have weakened the ambiguity and delicious tension people love.

    I hate feeling tense. Why do people like it? Not enough pain in their reality?

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