‘Shot of Short’ #31: Year of the Dog by Casey Kait

Title: Year of the Dog by Casey Kait
Date Read: 09 April 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)

Briefly: Two families come together in a restaurant to celebrate the Chinese New Year, but it soon becomes apparent to the narrator that her family and friendships are not quite as glossy as the outer ‘veneer’ would suggest.

Afterthoughts: This is a delightful little tale and incredibly well written. It’s engaging and poignant, but it also shows a sly touch of humour at times (see ‘notable quote’ below). Cal Morgan mentions in his intro that some people see this story as one that ‘captures the everyday disillusion of children’, and that’s a notion I would wholeheartedly subscribe to. However, I also like this story because it gives a nice (albeit brief), cultural snapshot into the life of the Chinese community in New York, at a time when it’s at its most celebratory. Bottom line though – Kait is definitely a talent at this ‘short story’ writing game.

Notable Quote: “That’s the most important thing about tennis, keeping your eye on the ball. That and always follow through.” My father made a backhand swing in slow motion to demonstrate. Little Pete mimicked his stroke, but before he could complete it, my father corrected his grip on the imaginary racquet. Sammy rolled his eyes and got up from the table.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).