Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Fiction Fix: "Idols"

When we have the opportunity to deliver an installment of this feature, the idea is to typically blend stories, one that's written, one that tells another with images. Today we're making an exception in that the photo-image story is not one, but a series of individual mini-stories, if you will. The author of "Idols," today's piece of fiction, is a guy by the name of Tim Gautreaux, who hails from Louisiana, and has seen his work published in The New Yorker, Harper's, and Atlantic, among others. He has also published two novels, The Next Step in the Dance and The Missing, in addition to a couple short-story collections.



He is the Writer in Residence at Southeastern Louisiana University and has won several awards, including the 2005 John Dos Passos Prize. "Idols" appears in the June 22 issue of The New Yorker.

The story is, in my interpretation, about two men who've set their lives -- or at least the current portion of it -- and every ounce of their will toward achieving one goal. Such determination, one might argue, can be admirable, but there may some details of futility that get in the way. The character from whom we will (mostly)hear is named Obie.

“'Some men can change like a porch lizard switches colors,'



(he) said...'And some cain’t.'”

Obie gives us this gem early in the piece, which, in a sense, gives us the motif via foreshadowing.

“'I know about what a man thinks he needs.'”



"And with this he began unbuttoning his shirt."

By undressing, Obie will reveal something to the other main character, Mr. Smith. Chances of that something being a naked Bar Rafaeli video are slim, but we can all dream, right?

“'Maybe I don’t need ’em no more.



Get a little older, you need less and less.'”

I went to my sixth Royals game last night, and it was absolutely brutal. This team cannot hit, which means it cannot win. Period. The buddy that went with me simply couldn't grasp why I was so disappointed afterwards. He just didn't get it. As an interesting side note, I met Joakim Soria's wife afterwards at a bar. We had a five-minute conversation about where they met, how long they'd been married, etc. I made a comment about a typo on his Twitter page, which went over real well, but we moved past it. We talked about how long they'd dated, Mexicutioner facial hair -- she said she doesn't mind it except for when he's "down there attending to business" -- injuries, and athlete travel. Things were going relatively fine until I asked her what the name of the bar -- she'd already disclosed that they met in one -- in which they met was, and she lost it. She started screaming at me and called me a douche bag, which I found highly original, and tried to throw a drink on me. It was good times. One of my friends, in a fit of sheer sobriety, tried to get in her face, and her friend tried to apologize for her friend's actions, etc. Then my buddy tried to ask the friend (who had already told us she has a live-in boyfriend) out, and, well, like I said, good times. Getting back to our story...

Obie and Mr. Smith talk marriage. Both men have had their share of troubles.

“'Aw, she’s just a woman. Can’t hurt a man unless she buys a gun.'”











What? That last lady didn't have a firearm? Oh. Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway, we find out later that Obie has religion in his life:

“'Save me, O God, for the waters threaten my life;



I am sunk in the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold.'”

Ah. The good old days when the AFC West wasn't the NFL laughing stock, and people weren't wondering if the Raiders might make a run at the division.

There's a third (fairly) major character in the story. His role is crucial for a number of reasons, and he has his opinions on Obie.

“'That boy’s a good worker. I believe he can fix a broke horse.'”



For the purposes of this little vignette, "Obie" is Kansas City Royals Trainer Nick Swartz, who has been, shall we say, discussed a bit recently.

One of the characters finds the path to success, and must relish in it.

“'The old me’s gone. The new me’s got to move on down the road...



...Might be time to sell out.'”

Several months later, and I still can't believe that these two will don new uniforms for real next month.

The character who finds success seeks help from he who has not:

“'I’m sorry, (sir),



but it sounds like things is past fixin’.'”

And we'll wrap it up there. Please follow the pre-jump link and give "Idols" a go without photo/commentary interruption, and if you like it, consider purchasing some of Gatreaux's work here.

7 comments:

Cecil said...

"I met Joakim Soria's wife afterwards at a bar. We had a five-minute conversation about where they met, how long they'd been married, etc. I made a comment about a typo on his Twitter page, which went over real well, but we moved past it. We talked about how long they'd dated, Mexicutioner facial hair -- she said she doesn't mind it except for when he's "down there attending to business" -- injuries, and athlete travel. Things were going relatively fine until I asked her what the name of the bar -- she'd already disclosed that they met in one -- in which they met was, and she lost it. She started screaming at me and called me a douche bag, which I found highly original, and tried to throw a drink on me. It was good times. One of my friends, in a fit of sheer sobriety, tried to get in her face, and her friend tried to apologize for her friend's actions, etc. Then my buddy tried to ask the friend (who had already told us she has a live-in boyfriend) out, and, well, like I said, good times. Getting back to our story..."

WHAT THE FUCK? How did this not warrant its own post?? Dude, don't bury the lede like this...

bankmeister said...

It doesn't warrant for two reasons: 1) I don't want to draw unnecessary attention to the ordeal, you know, since so many MSM figures and Royals players are on the HoG daily, and 2) burying something like that inside an Eff Cubed is a good gauge of who, besides you, is reading it. At least on this occasion, anyway.

bankmeister said...

Um, and it's not the lede. Your days of Managing Editor ended when you ceased matriculation at THE Fort Lewis College. :)

Cecil said...

Ahem.

You may not have *thought* that that was the lede. But you, sir, would have been wrong. Dead wrong. A baseball player's wife throwing a drink on you always trumps some Louisianan's dialect-heavy fiction.

/Newspaper science
//Removes green eyeshade

bankmeister said...

a-HEM.

"tried to throw a drink on me..."

And listen, skippy, I'll do the thinking -- right, wrong, or dead wrong -- around here.

The art of fiction does, and always will, trump some petty occurrence at a make-upped Kansas City dive bar. Being the desire-to-publish fellows that we are, I would have thought that that went without saying.

/fidgets with necktie knot
//licks, a la Letterman, the fronts of front teeth

Dylan said...

So WTF? Did the attempted "drinkinfacing" ever happen?
Is it all part of the Friday Fiction?
Do MLB baseball wives actually talk of thier husband's attended to buisness matters, "down there"?
Somebody is getting their leg pulled.
DKC

bankmeister said...

No, no. All a true story. The idea of the Royals was only tied into the quote that flanks the logo. She did and said exactly what a I wrote. Real classy gal. Granted, she wasn't telling anyone who she was married to; her friend volunteered the information to us, which she didn't really appreciate. I couldn't help but play reporter.

No leg pulling this time. Honest.