‘Jeff’ by Jess Arndt

I realize every single story in this list, perhaps nearly every story I ever recommend to anyhow, I wish to introduce this way: “This is a strange story.” The strangeness of the prose in all of Jess Arndt’s work rings my brain like a bell – “Even now I can smell the mimeograph ink that reminds me, in a sharp inhalation, of last night’s freshly snuffed out sky.” I could spend all day in that sentence, or any of the sentences in ‘Jeff’, which features a cameo from Lily Tomlin, a mysterious building, longing, gender, imagined violence, more longing. Arndt’s sentences are slantwise and full of beauty; the stories themselves comes at you from nearly subdermal angles, and break your heart in unexpected ways.

First published in Bomb Magazine, 2014, and available to read here; collected in Large AnimalsStories, Catapult, 2017