‘Family Portrait’ by Sherman Alexie

Alexie, Sherman 1993b

Family Portrait by Sherman Alexie, 1993

The magic trick:

Writing so well that certain sections of a story sing like a tight, little poem

Simple trick today, folks.

Sometimes all you need to write a good story is a nice way with words. Simple to say. Harder to do. In “Family Portrait,” the first four sentences are more powerful than the story that follows. In essence, they form a lovely little poem. And that’s quite a trick on Alexie’s part.

The selection:

The television was always loud, too loud, until every conversation was distorted, fragmented.

“Dinner” sounded like “Leave me alone.”

“I love you” sounded like “Inertia.”

“Please” sounded like “Sacrifice.”

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