It’s over before you know it. That might be a criticism of the short story form. It might imply something else, though. Coover’s story pits form against content, rattling through a character’s life as though against his will, with nothing but Kewpie dolls and crutches to cling to. If the short story form is about compression (and maybe it is, sometimes), Coover’s is like a car crusher, squeezing its poor protagonist, who only wanted a beer, into a helpless cube.
Originally published in The New Yorker, March 2011, and available online here. Collected in Going for a Beer: Selected Shorter Fictions, Norton, 2018