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    One great short story to read today: Raymond Carver’s “Popular Mechanics”

    McKayla Coyle

    May 21, 2024, 10:30am

    According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, for the second year in a row, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free* to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:

    “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver

    Sorry for being basic, but somebody had to do it! Like this meme says: If you’re hearing about “Popular Mechanics” for the first time, then you’re one of today’s lucky 10,000! I think I read this story in every grad school class I took, but honestly? It hits every time. It’s succinct and funny and dark. It has that crystalline use of language that you only develop when you’re a Raymond Carver-level writer. Also, I love flash fiction and I will use any excuse to recommend super short stories. Now that’s writing, baby!

    The story begins:

    Early that day the weather turned and the snow was melting into dirty water. Streaks of it ran down from the little shoulder-high window that faced the backyard. Cars slushed by on the street outside, where it was getting dark. But it was getting dark on the inside too.

    He was in the bedroom pushing clothes into a suitcase when she came to the door.

    I’m glad you’re leaving! I’m glad you’re leaving! she said. Do you hear?

    He kept on putting his things into the suitcase.

    Son of a bitch! I’m so glad you’re leaving! She began to cry. You can’t even look me in the face, can you?

    Then she noticed the baby’s picture on the bed and picked it up.

    Read it here.

    *If you hit a paywall, we recommend trying with a different/private/incognito browser (but listen, you didn’t hear it from us).

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