‘Sliding’ by Leslie Norris

Sliding by Leslie Norris, 1975

The magic trick:

Showing how boys act when they’re in a group

Is Leslie Norris the most underrated short story writer of all time? I mean, that’s probably a bit bold as statements go. But he is very good!

Is he even rated at all? I don’t think he has a reputation at all in the 2020s.

His stories won’t stun you with twists and turns. There are no literary fireworks, no influential technique. Just quietly excellent stories.

“Sliding” may be my favorite of his. It’s a terrific story about how boys act when boys get together in a group. There’s the competitiveness, the jealousy, the insecurity, the camaraderie, and the brotherhood.

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

The selection:

Bernard was used now to the ice. Out in the yard, the tap had been frozen for days and a tongue of glass poked out of its mouth. Every morning was gray and spiteful, churlish light making the whole world dingy. Patches of hard grit gathered in the gutters and at the corners of streets, whipping against the boy’s face and into his eyes. All day long, the shops kept their lights on, but there was nothing cheerful about them; only Mr. Toomey’s shop was strong with color, because of the brilliant globes of his pyramids of oranges.

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