Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Juan Martinez writes about Best Worst American, his debut story collection just published by Small Beer Press.
If Best Worst American were a co-worker, it’d be the one you don’t mind running into by the fancy single-shot coffee machine at the office lounge, because this co-worker is always loaded with stories about weird things that happened to her that weekend. And she overshares. And you’re not 100% sure if the stories are true or not, but you don’t mind, and you don’t mind that she took the last of the fancy coffee pods. Also, you’re not 100% sure she’s actually your co-worker or just a random person who wanders into the office for free coffee and actually works down the street.
If Best Worst American were a single-shot coffee machine flavor, it’d be the really really good one that had a picture of a donut on the pod. You had this one moment where you were convinced the coffee was going to be donut-flavored, but no. It’s supposed to taste like donut-shop coffee, which of course. The coffee was so mild, and so delicious, and it took the edge off the fact that you were drinking the coffee at your doctor’s waiting room and you were vaguely anxious about all the things that could be potentially wrong with you.
If Best Worst American were your doctor, it’d be the super friendly one who tells you there’s nothing wrong with you that a bunch of Vitamin D won’t cure, and when you ask about the weird spot on your arm, the doctor just laughs it off, like, We all have weird spots on our arms! and asks you if you mind. Because the doctor wants to take a photo of the weird spot. You say yes. It’s all still super friendly, and you’re not at all worried, even though your doctor’s telling you that there’s this sort-of Instagram for medical professionals and your arm-spot’s totally going up there and it’s going to get so many likes.
If Best Worst American were the weird spot on your arm, it’d be benign, faintly discolored, and shaped like something familiar. It would be permanent.
Juan Martinez’s stories have been published in McSweeney’s, Glimmer Train, Conjunctions, Huizache, Ecotone, TriQuarterly, and broadcast on Selected Shorts. He lives in Chicago with his family and is an assistant professor of English at Northwestern University. His website is fulmerford.com. Follow him on Twitter at @fulmerford.