Issue 92 |
Winter 2003-04

On Ted Weesner, Jr.

I first encountered Ted Weesner, Jr. and his work when I heard him read at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and also at the Pen/New England Discovery awards. In both cases I was struck by his vivid characters and by the edgy, intimate, contemporary voice of his narrators. Later on the page, I found myself admiring that voice all over again but also appreciating how carefully Ted sets his stories and how well he understands the importance of earning a living. His characters are always in the grip of where they live and what they do for money. Francie in "Tuscaloosa" is no exception. She seeks to change her life in the traditional American way, by moving. And of course it works, and doesn't work. What I also particularly admire about "Tuscaloosa" is the story's fearless investigation of the complicated commingling of race and sex. Amrit, Francie's boss at the pharmacy, with his scar and his feather duster and his flagrant suggestions, is a terrific character. I relished every line of his dialogue and was only sorry when, in the best kind of way, he gets his come-uppance.

—Margot Livesey, author of four novels, Eva Moves the Furniture, Homework, Criminals, and The Missing World, a collection of stories, Learning by Heart, and is the co-editor of Writing about Literature: An Anthology for Reading and Writing.