‘Top Of The Food Chain’ by T. Coraghessan Boyle

Top Of The Food Chain by T. Coraghessan Boyle, 1993

The magic trick:

Combining a rambly plot with a rambly narrator

This story is a one-way conversation – someone reporting on a situation, defending the decisions made. That someone, as people often are when they are on the defensive, is rambling through the story, trying to make sure to win over the audience. That ramble fits the story’s content perfectly, because the entire thing is a bit of a ramble. One thing flows to another thing; each thing worse than the previous thing. The narration and the plot suit each other perfectly in one mess of a mess.

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

The selection:

The thing was, we had a little problem with the insect vector there, and believe me, your tamer stuff, your Malathion and pyrethrum and the rest of the so-called environmentally safe products didn’t begin to make a dent in it, not a dent, I mean it was utterly useless – we might as well have been spraying with Chanel Number 5 for all the good it did. And you’ve got to realize these people were literally covered with insects day and night – and the fact that they hardly wore any clothes just compounded the problem. Picture if you can, gentlemen, a naked little two-year-old boy so black with flies and mosquitoes it looks like he’s wearing long johns, or the young mother so racked with the malarial shakes she can’t even life a diet Coke to her lips – it was pathetic, just pathetic, like something out of the Dark Ages . . .

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