Friday, October 27, 2023

the last book I ever read (Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie, excerpt eight)

from Onlookers: Stories by Ann Beattie:

I was fifteen and knew nothing about photography; certainly, no one in the family hung photographs on their walls. There were only framed snapshots placed here and there. I had, therefore, never heard of Diane Arbus. Esther Straighter, Alice’s birding companion, also came to the house for the first time that day. The next door neighbor stopped by with cookies and swore that she had no idea why she’d been left a vacuum cleaner.

“What’s that supposed to be?” Kay asked, standing beside me, frowning up at the framed photograph.

What we were looking at was a woman in a wheelchair—I assumed it was a woman—who sat in front of a house onto which trees cast shadows. She was wearing a witch’s hat, and held a mask to her face that made it look like she had many missing teeth, pointed eyebrows, and a big nose with widely flared nostrils.

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