‘The Lying Bee’ by John Henrik Clarke

The Lying Bee by John Henrik Clarke, 1989

The magic trick:

A plot that necessitates two smaller stories within the larger story

Evidently, this story sat unpublished in Clarke’s archive for years before finally seeing the light of day in a 1989 anthology, Talk The Talk. Strange fate for such an excellent story.

“The Lying Bee” creates a contest in town to determine who has the best tall tale. Such a setup then requires the author to present two smaller standalone stories within the overall story. And they have to be good too! They have to not just move the plot along but provide the plot’s peak. Not an easy task to give yourself.

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

The selection:

For a long time my uncle Albert held the record as the greatest yarn spinner or the most convincing liar in our town. He was proud of this record in spite of the criticism showered upon him by the church-going branch of our family. Sometimes he used to tell me hair-raising stories of his adventures in foreign lands, and I listened to them with great interest, fully aware that he had never set foot outside the state of Georgia.

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