So, if there's a writer I've mentioned here at the EWN more than any other, it's most likely Percival Everett as I believe I've written full reviews of 18 of his now 23 works of fiction, and 3 of his 4 poetry collections. So it should be no surprise that I've chosen one of the stories from his latest (Graywolf Press, September 2015) short story collection, Half an Inch of Water, to take a peek at.
In the story "Stonefly," a girl named Rachel drowns in the river. Her brother, Daniel, is 8 at the time. That and more background is given to the reader in the first paragraph. Then the story bumps forward six years and begins to really concentrate on Daniel. His parents naturally worry about him and have him seeing a therapist. A sample from one of their conversations:
"Any thoughts about your sister?" She cleared her throat. "Might as well get right to it, right?"
"You guess you've been thinking about her or you guess we should get right to it?"
"You're the one who put the question badly."
gives an idea pretty quickly as to Daniel's personality and thought process. And Everett has such precision with his language, I'd not be surprised to find out that the question the therapist asked might have been typed out accidentally, leading to Daniel's smart alecky reply. Daniel actually turns the tables on the therapist two or three more times during their session and a later meeting. The story turns a bit into a finding oneself story as Daniel does begin to focus a bit on his feelings about his sister, about how his parents hover over him (their only other child after Rachel's death). It uses elements from activities Everett has been known to both enjoy, and write about--the outdoors, horses and riding, fly fishing--and an abnormally large trout surfacing and shining near the area Rachel drowned to help propel Daniel forward.
As is typical with an Everett fiction, there's no hammering over the reader's head with a message or idea. Instead it's the combination of events, the writing, and the language that grab one's interest and keeps it. The ideas to mull over and consider for the next couple of days before moving on to the next story in the collection. About halfway through this most recent collection and placing it on one of my Everett shelves will be a pleasure.