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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fitting Ends by Dan Chaon

A superbly written story about stories. The narrator is telling about someone else writing a story, but in turn is telling a story. "The writer spends much of the first few paragraphs setting the scene, trying to make it sound spooky."
"But anyway, this is how the writer sets things up. Then he begins to tell about some of the train engineers, how they dreaded passing through this particular stretch. . .There were a few bad accidents at the crossing --- a carload of drunken teenagers who tried to beat the train, an old guy who had a heart attack as his pickup bumped across the tracks. That sort of thing. Actually, this happens anywhere that has a railroad crossing.
Then came the sightings. An engineer would see "a figure" walking along the tracks in front of the train. . . The engineer would blow his horn, but the person, "the figure," would seem not to notice. The engineer blasted the horn several more times, more and more insistent." . . .
"You can imagine the ending, of course: that was how my brother died, a few years after these supposed sightings began. His car had run out of gas a few miles from home, and he was walking back. He was drunk. Who knows why he was walking along the tracks? Who knows why he suddenly kneeled down? Maybe he stumbled, or had to throw up. Maybe he did it on purpose. He was killed instantly."

Now I don't want to or intend you to simply think "what a dreadful story!" But rather "Wow, I really felt the text pull me along the story!"
I found this worthy to be placed along other great short stories and deserves to be read at least twice.

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