Originally published in the Spring 2014 issue of the Paris Review, this short story by Zadie Smith has just been re-published by the Daily Telegraph (since when do they publish fiction?), seemingly because it’s on the shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award. Here’s the beginning:
“Well, that’s that,” Miss Dee Pendency said, and Miss Adele, looking back over her shoulder, saw that it was. The strip of hooks had separated entirely from the rest of the corset. Dee held up the two halves, her big red slash mouth pulling in opposite directions.
“Pulling’s not your problem.” Dee lifted her bony, white Midwestern leg up onto the counter, in preparation to put on a thigh-high. With a heel she indicated Miss Adele’s mountainous box of chicken and rice: “Real talk, baby.”
Miss Adele sat down on a grubby velvet stool before a mirror edged with blown-out bulbs. She was thickening and sagging, in all the same ways, in all the same places, as her father. Plus it was midwinter: her skin was ashy. She felt like some once-valuable piece of mahogany furniture lightly dusted with cocaine. This final battle with her corset had set her wig askew. She was 46 years old.