‘Blueprints For St. Louis’ by Ben Marcus

Blueprints For St. Louis by Ben Marcus, 2017

The magic trick:

Setting the story amid terror attacks and making that only the second most frightening and depressing aspect of the plot

The second section in this story – the part right after the introduction – tells the reader of an America where large-scale terror attacks are the norm, each one as deviously planned as they are deadly. And this section brightens the story’s mood. Yes, brightens. Such is the level of gloom and doom expressed in that intro section when we meet Ida and Roy, the unhappily married architects at the center of the story. And that’s quite a trick on Marcus’s part.

The selection:

It was winter, which meant that a pelvic frost had fallen across the land. Or maybe just across Roy and Ida’s apartment. And, in truth, the frost had long since matured into a kind of bodily aloofness, just shy of visible flinching, when they passed each other in the halls, or when they co-slept in the intimacy-free bed they’d splurged on. Why not have the best sleep of your life next to the dried-out sack of daddy you’ve long taken for granted, whose wand no longer glows and quivers for you and for whom you no longer quietly melt?

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