‘No life’ by J. Robert Lennon

The story opens in a  park, with Edward and Alison sitting in their car, getting ready to join the meeting between prospective adopting parents and children. It starts there, but very soon the focus shifts from the children themselves to this couple and another. Harlan (a Texan judge –“a rich hick”) and Linda Breece happen to have spotted the same cute child, and soon it’s clear a competition has started. And when Edward and Alison are invited to dinner by their competitors, you can expect everything not to go smoothly. Lennon’s skill is in wrong-footing the reader. In his short stories, just like in his novels, he is at his best when crossing genres, moods.

First published in The New YorkerSeptember 4, 2000 issue. Collected in See You in Paradise, Graywolf Press/Serpent’s Tail, 2014