Monday, July 23, 2007

Abbott's Openers

A few months ago, I bought a copy of All Things, All At Once: New and Selected Stories by Lee K. Abbott. It was one of the countless impulsive book purchases that eventually make moving such a royal pain for me. Oh, and gives me a nice library, too, so I'm not complaining.

I'd only vaguely heard of Abbott, but Richard Ford, William Kennedy, and others spoke highly of him on the jacket, and I was on a mission to read more short stories as part of my effort to write more of them. I haven't started the collection yet, but flipping through it today, I noticed that Abbott doesn't waste much time getting out of the gate. Here are some of his first sentences:
She was Betty Porter, a being as much of magic as of muscle, and I who I ever am -- Heath "Pokey" Howell (Junior), banker, Luna County commissioner and, as events will prove, the dimmest of sinners, male type.

Several years ago, about the time my wife Vicki began talking about suing me for divorce, my best friend, Newt Grider -- who had to him all the virtues you expect from men in middle age -- told me he believed in UFOs.

Though I am still called Bubba by some I do and do not like, my real name is Cecil Fitzgerald Toomer, and this adventure that's happened to me starts with the idea, no doubt loony to ordinary citizens in the big world, that what I know about love comes not from falling in it once, but from watching, years and years ago now, nearly one thousand yards of Super-8 movie in the cinder-block film room at the University of New Mexico and seeing something in football that, by the end of it, had me quietly, well, weeping over the 265 pounds I was.


Anonymous pf said...

That's some good stuff, JW -- especially that last one. Might have to pick up a copy myself.

7:09 AM  

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