“Foster”
by Bryan Washington
from the June 14, 2021 issue of The New Yorker

I thought we might get the annual summer fiction issue this week, but that’s not the case (hopefully next). When the fiction is from Bryan Washington, though, I’m okay waiting. I’ve really enjoyed the three stories the magazine has published in the past few years. This week we have “Foster,” a story that appears to look at a man’s relationship with his brother, with a cat thrown in the mix:

He isn’t any kind of cat that I’ve ever seen. The paws look like something out of a storybook. And his fur shines an ikea-bag blue. Some Googling tells me this means he’s a shorthair, maybe—but my older brother’s letter just called him a stray.

You have that in common, my brother wrote.

From the first bit of the story, we can clearly see a dysfunctional relationship, and it seems the brother is dysfunctional in general:

We were born four years apart. Hadn’t spoken in six. He’d been in prison for three. He’d killed someone, accidentally, in a hit-and-run. But he’d shot another person before he was caught for that.

It appears that this is not the only strained relationship, and our narrator appears quite beaten down and tired of it all. Washington does such a good job of conveying all of this in a brief period of time.

I hope this story finds you well and at the start of a good summer. I look forward to reading “Foster” and any thoughts you would like to share below.

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