The Best Girlfriend You Never Had by Pam Houston, 1999
The magic trick:
Collecting a disjointed series of anecdotes and memories to make a character study
OK, not my favorite story of the century, but it’s an interesting use of the anecdote quilt.
Nothing seems particularly linked, and yet the series of anecdotes and memories does add up to a character study of sorts.
And that’s quite a trick on Houston’s part.
The first time I was mugged in the city I’d been to the late show all alone at the Castro Theatre. It’s one of those magnificent old movie houses with a huge marquee that lights up the sky like a carnival, a ceiling that looks like it belongs in a Spanish Cathedral, heavy red velvet curtains laced with threads that sparkle gold, and a real live piano player who disappears into the floor when the previews begin.
I liked to linger there after the movie finished, watch the credits and the artificial stars in the ceiling. That Tuesday I was the last person to step out of the theater into a chilly and deserted night.
I had one foot off the curb when the man approached me, a little too close for comfort even then.
“Do you have any change you can spare?” he said.