Short stories are essential to any meaningful way of life; without them we are doomed—so I hope you tell and receive stories at the office, on the job site, with strangers by the pool or on the subway. The stories you tell out loud are likely anecdotal and voicey and take after the dirty joke or the rant. Best if the stories you tell are unheard of, unusual and funny, or cruel and stupid, or vulgar. I can’t stand the middle stuff, the stuff called “affirmative.” A story’s gotta have music and strangeness or it’s nothing. The written story is a fail-safe, longer and worked and in its best instance a cool sculpture created in the spirit observed in children during Arts and Crafts, them with their edible paints and colored construction paper—drool seeping from their mouths—and scissors and glue, a crosshatch of love, life, and the elusive tincture.