Old Friends by Thomas McGuane, 2006
The magic trick:
Telling the story by alternating evenly between past and present
This was not my favorite story. It’s the second John Briggs story from the Gallitin Canyon collection, following yesterday’s SSMT feature, “Vicious Circle.” The Briggs character is just kind of there. The Faucher character here is awful to the point of being cartoonish.
It’s worth noting the structure. The story alternates between backstory and the action of the present. I honestly couldn’t tell you which is more boring. Sometimes it seems the two elements are competing to win a least-interesting-plot-element contest. Ultimately, I’d have to say the present story wins out. Not good.
Those mean-spirited comments aside, it’s a worthy structure. And that’s quite a trick on McGuane’s part.
Faucher was surveying the hills to the east. “Don’t worry about me overstaying my welcome,” he said. “I’m quite considerate that way.”
“Furthest thing from my mind,” Briggs said.
“Do you have an answering machine?”
“Yes, and I’ve turned it on.”
“A walk would be good,” Faucher said. “We’ll teach those fools to wait for the beep.”