Business Talk by Max Apple, 1984
The magic trick:
Building a theme around what the characters don’t do and say
The characters in “Business Talk” appear slightly askew. They’re running around doing mostly normal things – being married, developing careers, fun stuff like that. But things aren’t quite right. It’s in the characters’ reactions.
A man makes a pass at a woman at the workplace? Touches her breast? She does nothing.
Woman tells her husband about it? He says nothing.
Husband takes business partners to strip club? Wife says nothing.
Husband finds wife’s book about adultery? He says nothing.
Things are not quite right in this little world of business and pleasure. Which of course is the story’s whole point. And that’s quite a trick on Apple’s part.
At night when the children are asleep and James has put away his atlas, when I’ve washed my face with Clinique and he has clipped his fingernails and we estimate if we have any energy for each other after all the activity of the day, I ask him if he ever thought that I had any talent for business and whether he considered me a frivolous person who is just going from one thing to the next in constant search of release from the boredom of daily life, which shouldn’t be so boring, should it?
He is thumbing through my book, reading courtesy of Norman about the extramarital adventures of twenty-six New York women over a fifteen-year period.