A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 29
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
“The Provincials” by Daniel Alarcon is a contemporary short story incorporating a short one-act play. Set in an unnamed Latin American country, it portrays a young man who wishes to immigrate to the United States telling old friends of his father what it is like to live in California as though he had already gone and come back. He pretends that he is a successful entrepreneur. The play within the story makes clear the attitudes of each character toward the young man in a way that the more polite conversation of the short story does not. It is a sort of lie about the telling and receiving of a lie.
Pitting those who migrate against those who remain in the poor Latin city, the story shows tempers rising while six men drink bottle after bottle of beer. The young man’s arrogance is the central target of resentment, but his father who left for the capitol city is also open to criticism from the old men who both celebrate the father’s success and envy it. With immigration a continuing hot topic in the news, it is a story of our time.
“The Provincials” is the first story in The Best American Short Stories 2013 by virtue of its author being first alphabetically. Like all 20 stories, it was selected from 2013 issues of top magazines and literary journals published in either the Unites States or Canada. The volume is a good introduction to the short story genre and identifies new fiction authors for readers who are seeking some. – Review by Rick