Wolff is a fantastic writer of short stories – but I’ve chosen this story as illustrative of something that runs across all great story writers. The short story form gives you a great deal of freedom. You don’t need to worry about anything except the thing you are writing now. You don’t need length, development, incident. But you do need to stick the knife in, and then you need to twist. Wolff does this, and does it again.
First published in In the Garden of North American Martyrs, WW Norton, 1982; collected in Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories, Bloomsbury, 2008. Available online here