A week from now, the DBC|READS gang is going back to college! (Cue: montage showing us in college.) And for some of us—the D and B, respectively—this means heading back to the Midwest. This is exciting. This is a good thing. So, in honor of that, our #fridayreads will focus on the Midwest.

Chad Simpson’s “Estate Sales”
One of my favorite writers’ (and a former professor) best stories, “Estate Sales” does everything a good piece of flash fiction should do: it condenses a meaningful story line into a very small space, without sparing the elements required of a good piece of writing.

Michael Martone’s “The Flatness”

And, in the dawn around Sandusky, they have had enough, and they hunker down and drive, looking for the mountains that they know are out there somewhere. They cannot see what is all around them now. A kind of blindness afflicts them, a pathology of the path. The flatness.

I’ve always had a particular fondness for this piece. Having spent a lot of my adolescence driving across Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, reading “The Flatness” puts me back in the seat of my 1999 (and later 2003) Chevrolet Cavalier.

David Foster Wallace’s “Tennis, Trigonometry, and Tornadoes”
Look at that opening line—I mean, seriously, look at that opening line. I love, “T, T, and T” because it’s Wallace’s best piece about the Midwest. Spare me his treatise on the Illinois State Fair—which was, undoubtedly, something he must have regretted writing, what with its East Coast self-righteousness and generally toxic tenor—I’ll take this simple, heartfelt piece that somehow comments on all three Ts in a way that seems natural; right.

Jonathan Franzen’s “The Comfort Zone”
Listen, I’m just not a big Franzen guy. He’s lacking in, shall we say, humility? But this is a tremendous essay.


Have a good weekend, everybody. I’ll be the guy trying to figure out if the White Sox really did hire Robin Ventura.

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