‘Bad Latch’ by Curtis Sittenfeld

Bad Latch by Curtis Sittenfeld, 2015

The magic trick:

Bringing two characters together in a sweet (if predictable) way

Extraordinarily loyal SSMT readers will know that I have not been particularly kind to previously discussed Sittenfeld stories. I did not enjoy “Show Don’t Tell.” I liked “Gender Studies” even less.

But you know what? This story is really sweet.

It’s not especially original. Certainly not surprising. The ending is probably pretty trite. But who cares?

It’s a sweet story.

The narrator works hard to identify herself against the people around her at the beginning of the story. Especially Gretchen. She spends the bulk of the text making sure we know that she is nothing like Gretchen.

So it’s a sweet (if predictable) development to find that, in fact, they do share common ground.

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

The selection:

It wasn’t that I disapproved of parents who put their kids in day care, or at least if I did, I knew enough to be embarrassed by my disapproval. I wasn’t a person compelled to broadcast my own choices in the hopes of reminding other people of their inferiority. Nevertheless, on Sadie’s first day at Green Valley Children’s Center, I didn’t even make it out the front door before I burst into tears. I hadn’t felt that bad about some of the things that women having babies when I did, even in Omaha, were supposed to feel bad about — an epidural, formula — but the collapse of my carefully crafted child-care setup seemed like a failure of a different magnitude.

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