Identification of short story (and author) about an inside joke at a funeral
August 25, 2010 11:06 PM Subscribe
About two years back, I was traveling and picked up a huge book of short stories in a hostel. They were all by the same author, and for the most part, they were Roald Dahl-esque, intricately plotted, fast moving, usually violent or crimeish short stories with an elaborate twist at the end. However, one of the stories was a lovely departure from the others, and I'd like help identifying it.
posted by Ideal Impulse to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The story was very quiet and character-driven. It was a frame story about a woman telling a friend about her father's funeral. The funeral had occurred years earlier, when the woman was in her 20s and not living at home, and her father's death had occurred suddenly. She felt extremely guilty and upset, as she'd been in a fight with her dad not too much before his death. At the funeral itself, a man comes up to offer condolences. He introduces himself, and for some reason, the man is a the subject of an inside joke her family has. The woman starts laughing uproariously, but disguises it as crying. Her mother, recognizing what's going on, leads her away.
I'm not doing it justice here, but it was a beautiful short story, and I'm interesting in reading more by the author.
Some other details: I'm fairly certain the book was by a male author, and a number of the stories took place in New York City. I don't think it was contemporary (although, of course, it could have been published more recently); something about the book (again, at least what I read) had a very '70s/'80s feel to it (like, Time Square still being a tacky porno haven; someone has a fax machine and it's a big deal). It was an extremely thick book, as well (I would guess about a thousand pages, but maybe my memory is wrong) and I read maybe 15 stories in it. It was too thick to travel with. In general, I should add, all the stories were very well written in a brisk, uncluttered kind of way and I liked his style, but they tended to run together if you read more than three at a time.
Does anyone recognize this story/author? And if you do, could you recommend something by him for me? (I assume he's prolific, since he's written at least 1000 pages of short stories)