Tag Archives: The Paris Review

Electric Writing

22 Aug
Refresh, Refresh - short stories by Benjamin Percy

Refresh, Refresh

As a reader, I love to delve into stories that have electricity, ones that command my attention and interest in the first couple of paragraphs.  This doesn’t mean that I won’t give a promising story a chance if it starts off slow (quiet stories can be wonderful in their own ways), but what I do mean is that my favorite stories, the ones that stay with me, have a vibrancy that is arresting, an energy that makes me feel like I’ve taken a few shots of espresso followed by a few shots of tequila.

One story that falls into this category, and which I highly recommend, is “Refresh, Refresh” by Benjamin Percy. The Paris Review blog recently made this story available again on their website, and if you haven’t read this story, I urge you to take the opportunity to read it now. Even if you have read it, it’s well worth re-reading if only to ask yourself How the hell does he do that? and then spend the rest of the day trying to figure that out.

If this post hasn’t convinced you yet, I provide you with the third paragraph for your reading pleasure:

We began fighting after Seth Johnson—a no-neck linebacker with teeth like corn kernels and hands like T-bone steaks—beat Gordon until his face swelled and split open and purpled around the edges. Eventually he healed, the rough husks of scabs peeling away to reveal a different face than the one I remembered—older, squarer, fiercer, his left eyebrow separated by a gummy white scar. It was his idea that we should fight each other. He wanted to be ready. He wanted to hurt those who hurt him. And if he went down, he would go down swinging as he was sure his father would. This is what we all wanted: to please our fathers, to make them proud, even though they had left us. 

Feel free to share your own thoughts about this story in the comments, or suggests others that you think fit in this category of “electric writing”.

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Tracy Staedter

Science writing, editing and workshops

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