I'm nearly finished with Lorrie Moore's collection of short stories, 'Birds of America', and I'm willing to go out on a limb and declare this the best passage in this spare partial oeuvre:
"The thing to remember about love affairs," says Simone, "is that they are all like having raccoons in your chimney."
"Oh, not the raccoon story," groans Cal.
"Yes! The raccoons!" cries Eugene.
I'm sawing at my duck.
"We have raccoons sometimes in our chimney," explains Simone.
"Hmmmm," I say, not surprised.
"And once we tried to smoke them out. We lit a fire, knowing they were there, but we hoped that the smoke would cause them to scurry out the top and never come back. Instead, they caught on fire and came crashing down into our living room, all charred and in flames and running madly around until they dropped dead." Simone swallows some wine. "Love affairs are like that," she says. "They are all like that."
You can listen to a podcast of author Louise Erdrich reading this short story, 'Dance in America', on The New Yorker's website, or just click here. Nothing is quite as fun as listening to one author fawn over another, except for one author hating on another (the famous feud between Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman, anyone?).