A Gordon Lish Sentence That Cracked Me Up

Today, I listened to Iambik’s audiobook version of Collected Fictions, a selection of stories written and read by the inimitable Gordon Lish. Lish reads a few choice stories from four of his volumes in a wry, gruff tone; he’s got a wonderful rhythmic style, and he pauses to reflect on some of the selections before and after reading them. I’ll give the volume a proper review down the line, but I wanted to share a passage–a long sentence, really—that made me laugh out loud from the story “Mr. Goldbaum,” from the 1988 collection Mourner at the Door. I actually own Mourner at the Door, and had read “Mr. Goldbaum” sometime earlier this year or last year, but I don’t remember it being nearly as funny or touching. Must be Lish’s delivery. Anyway, the Lishness, which can be appreciated entirely out of context–

What if your father was the kind of father who was dying and he called you to him and you were his son and he said for you to come lie down on the bed with him so that he could hold you and so that you could hold him so that you both could be like that hugging with each other like that to say goodbye before you had to actually go leave each other and did it, you did it, you god down on the bed with your father and you got up close to your father and you got your arms around your father and your father was hugging you and you were hugging your father and there was one of you who could not stop it, who could not help it, but who just got a hard-on?

Or both did?

Picture that.

Not that I or my father ever hugged like that.

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