100 Best-ish Nonfiction Titles: Essays
100 Best-ish Nonfiction Titles: Food and Health

That first story really makes a difference.

I find that whenever I'm bored with nonfiction, what I need to do is pick up some modern fiction. Inevitably I don't like what I find* and I run, screaming, back for the nonfiction stacks.

CollarAnd so it was with Richard Ford's story anthology Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work. (It's an anthology of stories chosen by him, not a collection of his stories.) Again, get a load of that title. I totally wanted to love it.

But then I picked it up and read the first story, titled "Business Talk," by Max Apple. This is how it started:

"James I and have been worrying about things. I'm bored, restless, and in late afternoon always depressed. He tries to be helpful. The children are not too bad. My education is more than adequate. I understand what's happening as it happens. Still, I'm powerless. At four I get morose, by five I am tearful. When James comes home I looks as I've been pinched by devils all day long."

And this is how it ends:

"'Business is business,' he says. We sigh like cats.

I get the lubricant, he the prophylactics. Sometimes we're old-fashioned people doing the best we can."

Really. Now just put those two paragraphs together and see how much sense they make. None, right? Well, I've got news for you: I read the ten pages of story in between those paragraphs and they don't make any sense to me either. So what is the point of reading the story?

I know I should be the bigger person and try at least one other story in this collection. But I am not in the mood. Frankly, if I want to feel confused and somewhat depressed (at least partially because I AM confused), I'll just leave the house. That is not what I need reading for.