‘G-String’ by Nicola Barker

G-String by Nicola Barker, 1993

The magic trick:

Creating an odd comedic vibe

I can’t think of many other stories I’ve read for this SSMT site that do what this story does. The story recalls what I think of as so-called literary fiction in that it highlights certain themes by using symbols. Nothing extraordinary there. But it’s the next step that surprises. The story takes that symbol – the G-string, to be specific – and uses it as the literal plot fix. It becomes both thematic and useful. Which creates a weird screwball comedy kind of feel.

And that’s quite a trick on Barker’s part.

The selection:

When Mr. Kip didn’t remark favourably on her new dress; when, in fact, he drew a comparison between Gillian and the cone-shaped upstanding white napkins on the fancily made-up Rotary tables, she almost didn’t try to smile. He drank claret. He smoked a cigar and tipped ash on her. He didn’t introduce her to any of his Rotary friends. Normally, Gillian might have grimaced on through. But tonight she was a modern girl in torment and this kind of behavior quite simply would not do.

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