1-900 by Richard Bausch, 2001
The magic trick:
Grabbing the reader’s attention with a unique, dialogue-only structure
I picked up this story one read-myself-to-sleep night. Maybe I’ll get through the first couple of pages, I thought. I’m not proud. Sometimes it takes me five sittings to read a 12-page story. Anyway, I didn’t fall asleep on “1-900.” It grabbed me from the start and held me until the end.
There isn’t a bit of description to muddle through. The entire story is a conversation between caller and call girl on a sex-talk telephone line. She’s surprised and confused by his personal questions and conversation. The reader has the same reaction – at least enough to stick around (even at the expense of sleep) to find out what he’s up to. And that’s quite a trick on Bausch’s part.
I’m talking on the telephone, lover.
Any of them scare you?
It’s usually pretty friendly, and like I say, I do most of the talking. There’s one guy who calls to say what he’d like to do to me – an obscene phone caller. Before we were around, he probably upset a lot of nice little housewives.
What do you see in the future for yourself? You think you’ll ever be a nice little housewife, as you put it?
Are you writing a book?
I wondered if you plan on getting married someday, that’s all.