‘Changes In Louise’ by Tom Drury

Changes In Louise by Tom Drury, 1992

The magic trick:

Using odd details to create very strange characters

This is the third story of Drury’s I’ve read among those first serialized in The New Yorker and later assembled as the novel The End Of Vandalism. It’s probably the least frenetic and least aggressive in terms of trying hard to entertain. It’s also my favorite.

Drury is a master of balancing the mundane with the strange. Here, that mix is at its most precise. The key is in the details. I don’t think this man is capable of writing a single cliché into his stories. Every sentence is odd, every detail unique.

The result is a set of seriously strange characters.

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

The selection:

“How much money?” said Mary.

“Three thousand dollars,” said Heinz.

“Jesus, Heinz,” said Louise.

“How much?” said Mary.

“Three thousand,” said Louise.

“I know it’s a lot,” said Heinz. “I bet it with those guys at the Lime Bucket.”

“Well, Heinz Miller,” said Mary.

“They used psychology on me!” said Heinz. “They made it sound like I wouldn’t have anything to bet. They said when a farmer moves into town, generally it’s to live in low-class housing. What was I supposed to say?”

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