[Reading Room] Close Encounters by J. D. Daniels

Originally published in The Paris Review, I came across this story in the wonderful Short Story Thursday email series by Jacob Tomsky.

This is the kind of short story I hate: self-absorbed people acting in self-destructive ways and complaining they’re not happy. I don’t actually hate this one, though. Maybe because the main character doesn’t ever complain about the mess he’s making of his life. In fact he sort of understands it’s all his choice.

The most interesting part about this, as a writer, is the way that so much is left out. It’s kind of annoying to the reader, but on the other hand, spaces make the reader think. And thinking makes the reader work a little. And working at figuring out what is going on makes the reader ENGAGE with the story. And that’s going to make it stick. I bet this story is going to keep surfacing in my memory as my brain tries to solve the puzzle of it: what did it really mean? What was J.D. Daniels trying to say to me? Do I care? Is it relevant? I’ll say this for it: the characters felt real. So I can’t dismiss it.

The Tuesday Reading Room is a regular features at StoryADay.org. If you’d like to submit a review (of someone else’s story), read the guidelines here.