Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Stephen Dixon Short Story at Matchbook

Stephen Dixon, author of I. (among others) has a new (very) short story on Matchbook today called "Wife In Reverse".
As the story indicates, the story is told in reverse-chronological order.  It begins with a death  and sadness and as it progresses it gets less bleak and then there is joy and finally ending with hope.  The story is 441 words.  That's it.  And it's totally perfect.
But there's one thing that I'm kind of focused on that I don't really understand.  The Wife appears very dignified throughout the story.  She's the one who decides that she wants to go off of life support, she's the one that breaks off the relationship, but then starts it up again.  But the opening sentence is this: "His wife dies, mouth slightly parted and one eye open.", which is so not dignified to me.  And I'm not sure if it's some sort of "death steals our dignity" type of thing or what, but it feels out of place and kind of, I don't know, off.
There are some other interesting things in there too - the husband cries at all of their major "happy" events (the engagement, the wedding, birth of first child) but then doesn't cry at the birth of their second daughter and never cries again.  Not even in the end (or the beginning, rather).
Seriously, great story.  So good that I took it and re-assembled it in chronological order just for fun.  It makes a good story that way too.

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