"The Knocking"
by David Means
originally published in the March 15, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.
Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.

Click for a larger image.

This week’s story is a shorty. In fact, because it was so short, when I had ten minutes to spare I decided to read it online rather than wait for the print version to arrive in the mail. For the first time this year, I have read the story before anyone else commented below!

Sadly, I haven’t got much to report. There’s a frenetic energy to the voice here, one of those where there are few periods and the sentences keep going and going, dragging the reader on. The voice matches the state of the narrator. The whole story is a rant — no, rant is not the right word — a discourse on his upstairs neighbor’s knocking and how it relates to his own failed marriage, the dissolution of which he is still grieving.

I’m anxious to see what others think of the story, because on a quick first read I picked up quite of bit of sexual language in the descriptions and the idea that the narrator himself is doing quite a bit of the knocking. I’m not sure what it means, though, and I didn’t like it enough to want to reread it again, despite its only being a ten minute read. Also, I’m not always so finicky, but in a few short paragraphs the narrator happens to use the word anachronistic twice. I was so surprised at the description of two things as anachronistic that I had to go back a few sentences to see if I’d only imagined the repetition. Admittedly, I wasn’t enjoying the story much by that point anyway, but for some reason the second anachronistic really pulled me out of the story and made me wonder if this was just a sloppy sketch.

I’m sure I’m missing something. Perhaps someone here will help me understand what I missed that helps the story come together.

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