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.
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.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.