|by Mercedes Debellard|
She's going to write a short short story
by Antonia Saxon
Tuesday 20 July 2004
She's going to write a short short story and enter it in Dave Egger's contest, which she will win and which will make her famous. She works on her story in between bowls of Raisin Bran and many stolid looks at the paint peeling in the window well, which she knows is a source of lead dust and which will certainly poison her eight-year-old unless she coats it with some of that stuff in the can downstairs. She starts off writing the story about herself but then changes it, because in the stories he has included as examples for contestants to read Dave Eggers never uses the first person or uses the word 'I' anywhere. Even where he could say 'I' he says 'we,' like EB White, or 'the writer,' which the editor at the only newspaper job she ever had told her he didn't want her to do anymore, but which she still thinks sounds good. She loves Dave Eggers, even though she has never read anything by him except these short stories he has put in the Guardian, because he never says 'I,' and this means he's doing his best to do something about his ego. She's changed all the I's in her story to Barbara. Barbara is a good name. No, it's not. It should be Gretel, then she can work in something about gingerbread houses, which would be ironic if the character were someone from the twentieth century, because there are no gingerbread houses anymore. She changes a lot more of the words. She wants to say something about the sexual revolution and how terrible it was, and also something about the falseness of suburban culture. Dave Eggers says he can write one of these short short stories in a single sitting, but this is her 26th sitting and she isn't getting anywhere. She might be fussing with it too much. It might be better just to let it go. What will it be like to tell people she has won this contest? What will Dave Eggers say on the telephone when he calls her? No, he won't call. You only get a subscription to McSweeney's, which is a journal Dave Eggers started, and a first edition of one of Dave Eggers' novels. Three hundred and eighty-three, she says, three hundred and eighty-four.