According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, 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:
“Brownies” by ZZ Packer
Funny, immersive, tragic, and formally impressive—that final moment that twists the knife! the slow unfurling of the narrator’s identity in the group!—this story from Packer’s first collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, has become a modern classic, and it’s just as effective now as it was when it was first published 20 years ago. If you haven’t read it, the less said the better, so just go on ahead—
The story begins:
By our second day at Camp Crescendo, the girls in my Brownie troop had decided to kick the asses of each and every girl in Brownie Troop 909. Troop 909 was doomed from the first day of camp; they were white girls, their complexions a blend of ice cream: strawberry, vanilla. They turtled out from their bus in pairs, their rolled-up sleeping bags chromatized with Disney characters: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Mickey Mouse; or the generic ones cheap parents bought: washed-out rainbows, unicorns, curly-eyelashed frogs. Some clutched Igloo coolers and still others held on to stuffed toys like pacifiers, looking all around them like tourists determined to be dazzled.