This final story, The Open Door by Laurence deLooze is an example of something that’s been bothering me lately in many instances of currently published contemporary short fiction; it often rambles on and on, flaunting all the rules of making every word count:
In a single thought, Bill wondered if Dunger was all right, and also realized that he had absolutely no idea how long the door had stood open. He had no way to measure the open door against time. Against sequentiality. Maybe Dunger had been by numerous times, but the door had still been closed? All he had to go by was his arrival. How long, in fact, had the door been open before Bill arrived? Was it a matter of days or of weeks? Had the door somehow clicked open only minutes before he drove up—as though by some mysterious, impossible remote control? Even as Bill tried to work logically through the possibilities, the lack of logic inherent in the puzzle itself defeated him again and again. (p. 119)
Now this may be building up as a mystery story, but this paragraph is four pages into the story, long after he’s come up to his cabin to find the door open, and he’s been wondering about it since. To me, the questions the author has the protagonist asking himself is what the reader is asking; so are we being asked to not think about it because the character is doing it all for us?
de Looze then goes into the background of the character, from his early geek/hippie days through his marriage and career. Backstory all; told as if he were preparing a bio.
I almost put this down since it’s the last story to read in this issue, but flipping pages caught my eye that maybe this story is going somewhere, so I’ll continue on. I’m also wondering if it’s not my current frame of mind; cramming everything that needs to be done into not enough hours but impatiently insistent. Lord knows, I’m not one that requires any shouting action in the first few pages–nor even in the whole story. I’ll give Mr. deLooze the benefit of the doubt.