‘The Lottery’ focuses on the community of a small unidentified American town who come together annually to select a member by chance to be stoned to death. The story addresses a number of different themes in its short text; that of violence, of mob mentality, of conscription, of meaningless sacrifice and scapegoats, of men and women carrying out their ‘duty’ unquestioningly no matter the human cost.
The novel is painful to read; not only because it reflects the truth of oppression and racial division in this era (and the concern that many of us feel about Trump’s election and whether that shows a regression towards a more divisive society today too), but also because it expertly dangles hope in front of the reader.
So, David Sedaris. Realised where I'd heard his name before - like millions others, I’ve clicked past his Masterclass ad a million times (still saving up for an annual pass - if anyone’s got a spare one, slide into my DM’s) and heard the distinctive, “If you’re writing about people, you have to be interested in people…”
“Yo. Hear the bell?” I say over my shoulder to Thorndike, who's lying spread-eagled on his bed, face down. The only parts of him moving are the bright yellow soles of his trainers, bobbing up and down erratically like headlights. He’d cleaned them last night before bed, as he always did. Scrubbing and picking and brushing any specks he’d picked up from the linoleum. Like he was determined not to carry any of his day into the next.
"Can I tell you a story?"
"Yes, one about me," I say. "It's one I've never told anyone....."
“The DNA sample that you have provided does not match any of our records. Please return another sample to us.” He paused and read it again. Without saying anything, he flipped it over and skimmed the other side. It listed the countries: 0%, 0%, 0%. Another small line at the bottom: “Your DNA sample has not returned any matches.”
He kissed me with the kind of urgency you only really see in the movies. It was only now that I started to detect the slightest flavour of something charred and earthy in his tongue. He was definitely a smoker.
What do you do the morning after a one night stand when you cough and a decaying penis falls right out of your very own, very alive lady parts onto your shower floor?
I’m little. Only two years or so. I must be less than three years old, because she’s still alive. I’m outside, somewhere. I’m surrounded by people - large, looming faces that I don’t recognise. I tip my head over the arms that hold me to look around. There’s a beautiful one, two old ones, a big one, a really big one, a furry one, and there’s her.
When he died, a big part of Peter thought the rest of the world would too. He’d thought about how it might happen, many times. Not the way he’d die - that seemed fairly obvious to him - but how the world would cease after he was no longer there to watch it. Would the earth disappear with a bubble-wrap ‘pop’ at the moment his main artery finally clogged? Would the colors in the world start to drain as his vision swam? Would the roads, forests and oceans, some that he’d travelled across and some that he’d only read about, start to fold up on themselves like giant monoliths in the sky as his own heart constricted and failed in his chest? Most importantly, would anyone know why it was happening?