Issue #137: The Puppet

When I read The Collected Works of T.S. Spivet, I knew that some day I wanted to work with Reif Larsen. In his amazing first novel, Reif was able to weave together the inner world of his narrator’s thoughts, emotions, even drawings and diagrams, to tell a story full of heart and exploration of the self. And now: lucky us! One Story is happy to present a new piece by this talented writer. “The Puppet” takes readers in a new direction, following a lost young man, Valise, out of Oklahoma to the battle-worn streets of Sarajevo. Valise is driven by his father’s death, but it wouldn’t be a Reif Larsen story if there weren’t other elements attached to these deep-seated emotions. He also explores the work of Louis de Broglie, the Copenhagen Divide, and the shaking internal sense we call déjà-vu, all with characters, such as Brusa, the indomitable foreign reporter, and Thorgen, the war-time puppeteer, that remain long after you put the story down. To find out more about how Reif wrote “The Puppet,” read his Q&A with us. In the meantime enjoy this story by one of our most talented new voices. I for one can’t wait to see what Reif Larsen writes next.

Publisher’s Note: This issue printed with an error on page 2. The 4th sentence of the second paragraph should read: “The hotel was filled with the useless yard-sale of war: burnt-out mattresses draped across railings, gouged sandbags, intermittent buckets filled with ancient, intestinal piping at an abandoned tourist kiosk in the lobby, a sun-blanched poster of a skier smiling slopeside in a turquoise one-piece.” We apologize for this error, and any confusion it may have caused.

2 thoughts on “Issue #137: The Puppet

  1. I couldn’t get past the first few pages. Not that the writing wasn’t good, not that the characters weren’t interesting, not that the setting and subject matter didn’t grab me.

    But here we are in 1995. Yet the character wasn’t born until the late 70s (at the earliest). According to the text, his father was “dispatched to the American heartland in the late seventies” where he met Valise’s mother, “a rodeo queen.” At least this how the events are sequenced in that paragraph, and it seems safe to assume that he didn’t meet a rodeo queen prior to his arrival in Oklahoma.

    You do the math. In 1995 he is a teenager at best, yet he has already obtained a college degree and worked gigs as a reporter and then a technical writer.

    Anyway, call me picky but when this sort of error comes at the beginning of a story, I cease to trust the narrative and the author. I can’t continue.

    Why should I?

    If the author doesn’t care enough to construct a plausible timeline, why should I care enough to finish the story?

    How the readers and editors at One Story, whom I would trust with my life if my life were a short story, missed this is even more troubling.

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