“Hansa and Gretyl and Piece of Shit”
by Rebecca Curtis
from the November 16, 2020 issue of The New Yorker

Wow — where has the week gone? I’m late posting this, as you can see, and I haven’t even read anything about this week’s story, “Hansa and Gretyl and Piece of Shit.” I like the fairy tale promise, but I have no idea what this will be like.

It’s been a long time since Rebecca Curtis was last in The New Yorker. We had “The Pink House” in 2014 and “The Christmas Miracle” in 2013. As I look back at the posts on those, I’m not sure if I ever read them. Betsy has some great responses, though, and the comments are rich. Going back to those has made me think I may have missed out and need to fix that while reading this new story.

Here is how it begins:

Gretyl wakes at 6 a.m., as usual, but her stomach feels crampy. These are not what her mother calls the “normal” cramps, which gnash her abdomen for four days each month. These fissures poke her midsection with acidic fingers as she dresses. She hunches while she brushes her teeth, unloads the dishwasher, and mops the kitchen. She walks down to the cellar, carries up stacks of logs, and feeds the woodstove. She toasts bread, but finds she’s not hungry, so puts it in her heavy schoolbag.

She doesn’t ask to stay home. Her mother’s warned her that she knows the girl feigns illness because she’s unpopular—a loser!—because she’s lazy and unlikable. The girl knows better than to whine about a stomach ache.

And here is Curtis’s interview with Willing Davidson, where she talks about mixing fantasy and reality as she tells this story about a teenage girl with appendicitis in a family that doesn’t want to deal with it.

I imagine by now in the week some of you have read this already. Please share any thoughts you might have! I hope you’re having a good week, and that the weekend comes soon to offer some more respite.

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