‘Neighbors’ by Anthony Tognazzini

Neighbors by Anthony Tognazzini, 2015

The magic trick:

Getting the reader laughing, only to show later that it’s a mean joke

It’s almost a mean trick. This story gets the reader laughing. The tone is kooky. The neighbors’ complaints are funny. The stuff they do that could be termed creepy – like getting a ladder to spy on this woman of interest – is so over the top that it’s hard to take it seriously. But it is serious, as it turns out. The shift in tone at the end of this story is a gut punch, and leaves the reader feeling guilty for laughing moments earlier. And that’s quite a trick on Tognazzini’s part.

The selection:

We in town are not meddlesome, and as a rule we try not to gossip, but when someone new enters the community, we notice. It’s only natural to keep an eye out, to stay informed. We have jobs, wives, and husbands here.

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