One thing I’ve been thinking about for the past week is Lynn Beighley‘s story over at Fictionaut, “Three Things Not to Think About.” Beighley’s clever without condescending, picking you up right where you are when you start reading the five paragraphs of punch. The authoritative voice and its seemingly objective tone combine to lend the final paragraph its resonance. Laid out as an instruction manual of sorts, the narrator’s directives are unique enough to be creepy. She piques your interest, making you wonder: Who is this narrator? Why am I doing this? Who is she talking to? And Beighley’s answers to these questions are neither what you expect nor as simple as they seem. She captures a universal theme and predicament in an original and idiosyncratic way, a difficult feat for such a short piece.
Upon reading more of Beighley’s stories, I found that she has a powerful gift for the deceptive sentence. She builds an entire story, a house of cards, all the while holding her breath, which she lets out with a very calculated force. Her stories fall to pieces, not in disarray, but in a manicured pile of chaos, organized not to fool others so much as to fool oneself. Check out “Things Inside of Other Things” for more of Beighley’s incredible talent for making Russian nesting dolls of stories.