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Issue 43 - APlacewheremenwillbemen

Whisky Magazine Issue 43
October 2004

 

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APlacewheremenwillbemen

JeffersonChaseonRichardFord'sbizarrehuntingshortstory,Calling

IwasstoppedshortbyRichardFord'sshort-storycollectionAMultitudeofSinsinabookshopinCoastalMainewhen,flippingthroughitspages,Ifoundthenameofmyhometown,Pemaquid.Intrigued,IreadFord'sdescriptionandhadtheuncannyexperienceofbeinginthesameplacetwiceatthesametime.

I'mnotgoingtotalkaboutthatstory,though,butinsteadanotheroneofFord'stragic-comictalesofcasualinfidelity,simmeringangerand
unacknowledgedloss.

Calling,whichissetinNewOrleans,isabouttheaftermathofdivorce.Thefirst-personnarrator,BuckMcKendall,looksbackuponhislifeasa15yearoldfromagoodSouthernfamily,goneutterlydysfunctional.

Hismother,soontobedead,islivinginsinwithaBlackjazzmusician,whilehisfatherleadsanewlifeinSt.Louiswithhishomosexuallover.

‘HowIwasabandonedbymygaydad'iswellaboveaverageasnarrativepremisesgo,andthesituationtakesaniceturnfortheabsurdwhenBuck'sfatherphonesuptoinvitehimtogo–ofallthings–duckhunting.Excited,Buckrisesat4amontheappointeddayandgetspickedupbyataxi.Whenhearrives,hefindshisfatherratherstrangelyattired.

Hepulledhistopcoatapart,andIcouldseehewaswearingatuxedowithapinkshirt,abrightredbowtieandapinkcarnation...ThiswasnotexactlyduckhuntinginthewayI'dheardaboutfrommyschoolfriends.Myfatherhadnotevenbeentobed,andhadbeenupdrinkingandhavingagoodtime.Probablyhewould'vepreferredstayingwhereverhe'dbeen,withpeoplewhowerehisfriendsnow.

Alongonthehuntisalsoawhite-trashduckcallernamedReynardTheriotJr.,withwhomBuck'sfatherbickersintheamusinglynastyfashionofadrunkenSouthernQueen.

BoysLifethisisnot.Fordwringsconsi...

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