‘Yancey’ by Ann Beattie

Yancey by Ann Beattie, 2015

The magic trick:

Creating an authentic world

I keep doing it.

I don’t know why.

I think my ratio of read to enjoyed for Ann Beattie stories is trending toward about 5:1 right now. Yet here I am, writing about another Ann Beattie story that I read.

So this truly is an exploratory magic trick post. What is so good about this story? What makes Ann Beattie a voice of her generation to many?

Or, you know what, let’s not even consider that lofty question. I’ll just stick to the personal question of: why do I always at least recognize her work as high-quality even when I don’t particularly enjoy it?

I think it’s the authenticity.

Her characters, their concerns, the conflicts, and especially the writer’s voice always feels spot-on.

There’s a lot to be said for all that!

So I guess basically my complaints are ones of content, not style.

There we go. Figured it out.

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

The selection:

My daughter Ginger and her wife, Stephanie, who goes by the name Étienne, want to take the dog away from me. It’s because I’ve tripped or ­fallen a couple of times, and once had to wear a soft cast. And because I spend so much time and money having her cared for. They’re distressed that if I can’t get a tick off her on the first pull, I drive her to the vet. I’ve ­explained that the vet does not charge me for this, but that seems to be the least of the problem. It’s that I’m in the car too often and that my life is “centered around the dog.” God help me if they ever find out Yancey and I sometimes split a microwaved chicken burrito for dinner. I wash it down with a glass of white wine, Yancey with a small bowl of milk.

Don’t worry: I do have a topic of conversation other than the dog.

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