“Once Removed” by Alexander MacLeod from the February 7, 2022 issue of The New Yorker
Oh, it’s so nice to see Alexander MacLeod show up in The New Yorker. I really enjoyed his debut story collection, Light Lifting, which is now — I hesitate to check — oh my, twelve years old. Alexander is the son of acclaimed short story writer Alistair MacLeod, so I know part of my delight in seeing him here is because it reminds me of how much, aside from his own stories, I’ve enjoyed his father’s stories. Looking into this, MacLeod has a new collection coming from FSG in April! I am excited to get a taste in “Once Removed.”
I like what I’m seeing in the first few paragraphs:
She did not want to visit the old lady.
Amy studied the stroller, then the bags, then her boyfriend and the baby. She checked her phone: 11:26 a.m. It was time to go. Ninety degrees, ninety-per-cent humidity, and, according to Google, more than an hour each way. Each stage had its own icon, like the Olympic events, and all the separate minutes were broken up, then totalled at the end. walk 10 min, train 36 min, bus 15 min, walk 9 min.
Nothing could be worth this much effort on a hot Sunday afternoon.
As we continue, we see Amy trying to figure out a way not to make this trip, but her boyfriend is insistent that it’s too late. The “old lady” they’re going to see would have been up since six cooking, so they are committed. Yet something strange is going on. Amy wonders if the woman even knows who she is. Yes, her boyfriend says, she knows, but she doesn’t care. Hmmm. Intriguing!
Please let me know what you think when you’re done! I look forward to your comments!
Please consider purchasing through Bookshop.org
Liked it? Take a second to support The Mookse and the Gripes on Patreon!