‘Fast Lanes’ by Jayne Anne Phillips

A friend gave me this collection a while ago and it has been a pleasure to re-read this story, from one of the so called, ‘Dirty Realists’. But this story has real poetry in its musicality and imagery – ‘furled the white sheet out so it settled over me like the rectangular flag of some pure and empty country.’ We follow the journey of the narrator and Thurman through America towards the narrator’s home – an archetypal narrative shape. Along the way very little appears to happen except beautifully moderated dialogue, the geographical and physical descriptions, and the awareness dawning on the narrator of living too fast. There’s physical and psychological movement, shape, but not one which is rigid, and a welcome latent humour: ‘Nothing mechanical is easy,’ and ‘Don’t watch the dog, watch the road.’ 

First published in Granta 19: More Dirt, 1986, and available to subscribers to read online here. Collected in Fast Lanes, Faber,1987

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s