by Souvankham Thammavongsa
from the June 13, 2022 issue of The New Yorker
Souvankham Thammavongsa made her New Yorker debut last year with “Good-Looking,” after she was already an acclaimed short story write, having won the Giller Prize for her 2020 collection How to Pronounce Knife.
I love the way this one, “Trash,” begins:
I don’t know why I didn’t think of someone like Miss Emily. It never occurred to me to imagine her. I guess you could say I lacked imagination. I married her son after knowing him for only five days. A whirlwind romance.
The first few paragraphs go on to describe the narrator’s first encounter with “Miss Emily’s son” — the one that will lead to their marriage five days later (“He was funny and friendly and polite. That’s all I really need to know about anyone.”) — and I think the sly focus on Miss Emily is going to be a fun way to explore each of these relationships.
A few days after the marriage, she finally meets Miss Emily:
She was so eager to meet me. She made her son drive her to the supermarket, and they waited in the parking lot for two hours until I finished my shift. I had been on my feet for eight hours, so I wasn’t looking too hot or feeling that great about myself. But I didn’t think of things like that, impressions — first impressions — what they mean and how people don’t change their feelings about you even years after.
If you have a chance, please share your thoughts below! I look forward to finishing the story and to seeing what you all think!