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It sucks to be a guy in D.C., according to Richard Peabody: It’s a place where “nine out of ten men have bite blocks because their jaws are clenched so tight,” he writes in the intro to Stress City, a new collection of short stories by local male writers. Peabody, the editor of the Arlington literary journal Gargoyle, has been working the gender angle for a while: Last year he published his third collection of D.C.-area women writers.
But Stress City isn’t strictly a collection of stories about neurotic guys, let alone neurotic D.C. guys: True, the guy in Alex MacLennan‘s “Touching the Pole” has some issues with germs, but he’s doing all that worrying in San Francisco. And one of the collection’s best pieces, Dave Housley‘s “Goliath,” imagines the grown-up boy from the how-to-be-a-good-Christian animated show Davey and Goliath getting lectured by the dog for shacking up with an attractive woman:
“Dear Jeeeeesus,” he says. “Daaaavey is lost again. Please help Daaaavey, Jeeeesus. Help him find the light. Like that time we were lost in the old silver mine and I said…”
“You gotta stop this,” I say. “I can’t have this shit going on much longer.”
Peabody and a few contributors to Stress City—Housely and MacLennan along with R. R. Angell, Juan H. Gaddis, Brian Gilmore, Charles R. Larson, Richard McCann, and David Nicholson—-read tomorrow night at Politics and Prose.