‘Rafe’s Coat’ by Deborah Eisenberg

Deborah Eisenberg has far too much fun writing short stories. I don’t mean that peevishly—it’s just that her investment on the paragraph and structure levels is admirable, and that her short stories are such comedies! They’re full of idiosyncratic sad people who treat each other carelessly but love each other very much. The gut punch in Eisenberg’s stories always lands reliably, and oh, what a comfort that is. Take ‘Rafe’s Coat’ for instance, a story for which I have much affection—it starts with the divorce proceedings of our narrator who is a close friend of Rafe’s, and includes long expositions on the intricate plot-twists of ‘This Brief Candle’, a fictitious show in which Rafe’s girlfriend stars. It’s a magnificent story. It’s a hell of a ride.

First published in Transactions in a Foreign Currency, Penguin, 1986. Collected in The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg, Picador, 2010

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