‘A Different Kind Of Imperfection’ by Thomas Beller

Beller, Thomas 1991

A Different Kind Of Imperfection by Thomas Beller, 1991

The magic trick:

Creating a kind of psychological tension through slow pacing and the self-absorption of the protagonist

Here’s a Christmas treat for you! Alex is home from college on winter break, and he sits around and obsesses so much about himself and his small, little world that he starts to realize that he is turning into a stand-in for his dead father and as a result his relationship with his mother, whom he finds quite attractive, is complicated beyond measure. And a happy new year to you too!

Really, the more I read, the more confident I am in asserting my own particular taste, and this is quite simply the kind of story I loathe. Naval-gazing, rich-people crap. I really just don’t have time for Salinger and his lineage of boarding school bruised egos.

That being said, this story does create an admirable psychological mood. We are locked into the protagonist’s point of view, and he is locked in his own thoughts which are almost exclusively about himself. There is a tension that comes out of that. And that’s quite a trick on Beller’s part.

The selection:

He took out the shred of paper and examined it. He was sitting on the floor in a dusty corner of the study next to a ragged, brown armchair. It was a shred alright. One of several torn up and placed, perhaps, in a pile so that they could be used over the course of a reading session. This shred was the first of several sprouting up from the top of the book, a grove of markers densely clustered in an area where his father seemed to have found interesting material.

What do you think about this story? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.


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