Short Story Month, Day 8: Elizabeth Crane
So apparently today is Teacher Appreciation Day, which means my post yesterday about Rob Roberge was a bit premature. I would've posted today about Tod Goldberg, the director of my MFA program, but I wanted to write about his story "Walls," and I couldn't find it online (there is a video of actor Gary Cole reading it live, but I couldn't seem to access it). Instead, I've decided to post a story I'd already planned to write about, and while Betsy Crane is also a professor at my alma mater, she was sadly not one of my professors. Tod did, however, assign me her first book, When the Messenger Is Hot, and I asked her questions about it because I could, so she actually has taught me a thing or two about writing (and also about cardigans, probably), so I'm going to say that it counts.
All of that prefacing said, I have to admit that "Bed" is not what I would consider Betsy's best story (mostly because trying to find a "best" would be hard with so many contenders—but also, have you read her novel, The History of Great Things? OMG, do). This is, however, one of my favorites of hers because 1) I've met her husband and think they are adorable together, 2) we have discussed the Ryan Gosling "Hey, Girl" meme, and 3) I could absolutely see this as nonfiction, since I could totally see her making the decisions she makes in this story. Would this story be as good if I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Betsy? Probably, yeah, because that "Hey, Girl" meme is pretty hilarious and says a lot about what women want in a man. What Betsy says about what women need, though, is perfect.
Also, I once tried reading this with students, which I figured would be okay since it was published in Rookie, and I am pretty sure I used to it to talk about things like effective use of repetition and allusion and conflict and voice (voice!) and whatever else I had to teach them that day. Unfortunately, I encountered two problems: 1) a lot of kids didn't know who Ryan Gosling was, and only one kid knew not only who he was but what the "Hey, Girl" meme was, and 2) one of the boys who caught the reference to a threesome went nuts. This was not a boy I'd expected to pay attention to the lesson at all, never mind a threesome reference that nobody else noticed until he pointed it out to his buddies, but of course that would be the one thing he'd notice and want to talk about. Of course. I decided not to share this with teenagers every again because he just had to make it a thing. The girl who knew of the meme thought the story was hilarious, though, so it was worth it.