Edison, New Jersey by Junot Díaz, 1996
The magic trick:
Starting fast and making the reader catch up
I think they call this the cold open. Right? That’s the correct term. I think? The story starts almost in the middle. You’re immediately thrown into the action, and more importantly – in the case of Junot Díaz – thrown right into the writer’s voice. Good luck catching up. There is no setup. No establishing details. Stories engage us when they put us to work. Stories lose us when they ask too much work of us. This story finds the perfect balance from the beginning. And that’s quite a trick on Díaz’s part.
The first time we try to deliver the Gold Crown the lights are on in the house but no one lets us in. I bang on the front door and Wayne hits the back and I can hear our double drum shaking the windows. Right then I have this feeling that someone is inside, laughing at us.
This guy better have a good excuse, Wayne says, lumbering around the newly planted rosebushes. This is bullshit.