David A. Antler

There's Something I Want You to Do

Stories (Vintage Contemporaries)

By Charles Baxter

Read: 2017-08-10
Rating: 9/10
ISBN: 978-1101870013

A series of short stories whose characters are intermingled. Compelling and high quality; I finished this in just a couple sittings. Not many notes can be captured about this one.

my notes

“Daddy, didn’t you ever want to run away?” “No,” I say. “I don’t think I ever did.” “That’s weird,” she says. “Everyone else does.”

A panhandle was like a scream: you never knew what was appropriate, how much help to offer, what to do.

Sometimes you arrive at love before going through the first stage of attraction.

To the gods, poems were sour useless editorials, like bitchy letters to Santa.

As we get old, we need to acquire new vices. God will not be interested in us otherwise. We must wave our arms at Him to get His attention.

The man’s thinning hair is arranged in a halfhearted comb-over, and his eyeglasses sit on his nose at a tilt, the right lens lower than the left. He looks, it is fair to say, like a survivor of a plane crash dressed up to go on a talk show. On the approaching face is a Mr. Potato Head expression of rigid bonhomie.

he considered pediatric medicine the very worst of all specialties, a curse upon every physician who had ever practiced it, a field that he should never have gone into and would like to quit for some other better job, like selling boats. People were unusually happy when buying boats. Boat salesmen were dispensers of cheer. By contrast, the observance of pediatric medicine put the insane cruelties of God fully on display.

You get old, you think about the past, both the bad and the good. You have time to consider it all. You try to turn even the worst that has happened into a gift.

This is what I want to say: the thought of dying is a liberation for me. It frees us from the accumulations.