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The Short Form

“The New South: Writing the Newsweek Short Story”

Steven Barthelme


It wasn't really a deputy sheriff, it was an ATF agent. Actually... never mind. Maybe the python was in the trunk. This is where the story gets a little hazy; I had to fill in some blanks. I did interview the PR guy from the gaming commission and he does have a slot machine on his desk, one of those like you can buy at Service Merchandise. My brother told me.

I interviewed the guy by telephone. He did say the thing about giving a “rat's ass,” that's verbatim – “Son, I don't give a redneck rat's ass whether some snake tore the peewaddle out of some moongoose.” He didn't say “Son,” I polished a little. I hadn't told him it was a mongoose, I had said “mongrel,” but nobody pays very close attention nowadays. “Peewaddle” is a word my  daughter got at Catholic school – isn't it great?

We read it in McSweeney's Issue 5.