Bookside Table, The Angel Esmeralda, EM Keeler

“The Runner,” from Don DeLillo’s first short story collection The Angel Esmeralda,  is about a young man out on a jog in the park near his apartment. While in this public space, he and a few other park patrons witness a kidnapping, which is a violent but ultimately momentary eruption; a bold ripple on the still water of their weekend leisure.

Sometimes I think that Don DeLillo can be a little show offy, that his trademark minimalism can be a bit precious, too self conscious to draw you in. But certainly not here in “The Runner.” Here it’s perfect. The elements of this story–the kidnapping; the cadence of a good run, the feeling of body and sun warming up; the way we sometimes negotiate relationships with our neighbors when there is nothing but proximity to bind us; the way we try to take care of each other, notice each other, even if we do it with kind untruths and from a distance; the immediate reliance on stories to make a little meaning out of our pleasures and our traumas– are so minutely drawn.

And, what’s more, the dialog is really good. Not for it’s verisimilitude to ‘real’ speech, but for the fractured sputter stop of sense making and connection.  “The Runner” is a finely crafted story, shivery and sad and strangely sweet, and affectingly hollowed out.


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