‘Tapioca Surprise’ by William Goyen

Tapioca Surprise by William Goyen, 1975

The magic trick:

Setting up the joke by establishing an ominous mood

Funny, funny comedy here.

The story starts, though, ominously enough. There’s a storm brewing in Texas. Rain clouds moving in. A sense of impending doom.

A more astute reader than this one probably would note an air of satire from the start. I, however, did not. So I expected ominous stuff. Maybe even something scary.

Which, of course, only heightens the humor.

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

The selection:

And then it turned very dark and a little wind started and Mrs. Ducharm saw Rentha Sangley go in her house. The blackbirds flurried and broke their pattern, and they left the telephone wire swinging. The leaves, some of them big and tough as hides, began rolling and flying; and one leaf rushed in through the door Mrs. Opal Ducharm opened, and lay still on her rug. She slammed the door and stared at the leaf and recited, sensitive to omens, “Leaf on the floor, trouble galore . . .” and picked up the leaf.

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