‘Shot of Short’ #35: The Museum of Whatnot by Kevin Wilson

Title: The Museum of Whatnot by Kevin Wilson
Date Read: 03 May 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: Janey is the curator of a house museum which specialises in collections that are noted more for their eccentric dreariness rather than any sensational qualities (although I have to say that a collection of jars of toenail clippings found at the MOW is pretty sensational in my book :)) . It seems the drabness of the museum has a direct effect on its curator as she drags herself lethargically through each day, with her only highlights being the weekly visit from an enigmatic doctor with a ‘fetish’ for spoons, and the occasional celery and cheese imbued opening reception. Things begin to look up though when Janey discovers an unopened box in the archive stores; it contents of which prove to be of particular interest to Janey’s most regular visitor.

Afterthoughts: What a delightful story – an utterly compelling read, and totally charming. For the most part I had no idea where this story was taking me but Wilson ties it all together nicely in the end, leaving me completely satisfied. The biggest lesson the story taught me? Never collect mundane and uninteresting artifacts or there’s a danger they may well end up in a place like the Museum of Whatnot; a fate one wouldn’t wish on anything – whether animal, mineral or vegetable.

Notable Quote: “It is Wednesday afternoon, which is why the doctor is here. He is a regular, one of those whom I can count on no matter how few people step inside the museum each week. He comes in every Wednesday during lunch hour, white coat on, stethoscope around his neck. I look up from my library book and he flashes his lifetime membership. I smile, happy to see him, and he nods politely as he walks over to the newer exhibits. He tries to appear interested, paces from piece to piece, but I know what he has come here to see. It is always the same thing. The spoons.”

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).