There was always a vague understanding that mountain lions, in theory, roamed nearby. I think everyone just assumed there would have been a much sharper distinction between our workplace and the surrounding wilderness.
I love this story. Last year, when I received it, I skimmed it (big mistake: literary fiction is not skimmable) and got: mountain lion, corporation, blood, camping. I lost interest immediately. It slid down behind my tv set, where I clean but once a year, and I left it there until this year’s Spring Cleaning unearthed it. I dusted it off and put it in the pile to read on my bus journeys. I was not enthusiastic. I was wrong.
My skimming never uncovered the hilarity in the story, nor the arch parable of corporate life it is. As I said, literary fiction is not skimmable, you miss too much subtlety and nuance. I giggled my way through a round trip and couldn’t wait to finish it when I got home. It’s hilarious (how was I to know? One Story doesn’t usually do humor), and it skewers the economically-driven corporate world very effectively.
In his One Story Q&A, Munroe gives the source of this story as: “The collision of two events: the near-collapse of the market in 2008 and my discovery of Julio Cortázar.” “Bestiary” is the story, which I have not read, but will add to my list. This is his first fiction piece (he was whisked out of the slush pile by virtue of his cover letter), though he’s been publishing Corporate Folk Tales in McSweeney’s for a while. He’s now enrolled in an MFA program, and I hope that means more pieces like this. Others have commented this reads too much like George Saunders, but is that really a bad thing? There are dozens of writers of war stories, family tragedies, vampire stories, police procedurals; isn’t there room for two George Saunders in the world? I think the world could use five or six, actually.
The story concerns Halloway, a lawyer at a nebulous Corporation. Kinsella, a fellow employee. And a mountain lion. And executives, Eastman and Westman, an administrative assistant named Patty and a paralegal named Yvonne and other people who start disappearing from the office, leaving smears of blood and body parts behind, after Kinsella leaves the door open during his smoke break and presumably lets th mountain lion in. Don’t worry about my description – read the story. It’s worth buying the issue, if you’ve ever worked in a corporation and have a sense of humor about it. If you don’t have a sense of humor about it, you should read it anyway; it will help.
I only regret I let this little gem lie tangled in the dust bunnies behind my TV for so long. I hope it will forgive me.