I was in a book buying mood yesterday but short stories was all I could do, due to my limited concentration skills. I got "Speaking With Angels", a name-droppers wet dream, edited by Nick Hornby with stories by the likes of Irvine Welsh, Zadie Smith, Colin "Mr Darcy" Firth and Roddy Doyle.
I couldn't even start at the start and just bloody read, I had to dip into each one briefly, stick a toe in, see if any lines grabbed me. Finally I was dragged in with After I Was Thrown In The River And Before I Drowned, by Dave Eggers. I wasn't all hot and bothered about Staggering Genius as everyone else seemed to be so I was pleasantly surprised here.
It's written from a dog's point of view. And not in that cheesy way you write A Day In The Life Of The Toaster stories when you're seven ("Oh I wish they wouldn't stick multigrain in me. That chafes!"). This story so energetic and joyful and slobbery and sweet and I fell in love with it completely.
The dog dies. I was in tears, not because it was sad but just because of how it was written, it was so beautiful. He's dead in the bottom of a river:
"I slept in my broken sack of a body at the bottom of the river and wondered what would happen. It was dark inside, and musty, and the air was hard to draw. I sang to myself."
My sister got home from work and I'd cooked the most amazing pasta but I held it hostage until she read the story.
"Oh," she said when done.
"Don't you love it?"
"The dog died."
"Yeah! But but! Didn't you love how he wrote it?"
"What a depressing story."
"But he was dead and crumpled and he sang to himself. That killed me. So funny and sweet!"
"Well! Eat your pasta then!"
You know those days when you are just desperate for someone to see things they way you do, to feel the things you feel, to cry over a stupid story, you ache to feel a connection with someone, anyone. But they just want to eat their pasta.