I’m not much of a short story reader – and even less of a New Yorker fan – but I can’t recommend Sam Lipsyte’s The Dungeon Master highly enough. Blame it on the D&D / fantasy kick I’ve been on lately, but the story really spoke to me.
Dang, that sounds hokey.
The Dungeon Master has detention. We wait at his house by the county road. The Dungeon Master’s little brother Marco puts out corn chips and orange soda.
Marco is a paladin. He fights for the glory of Christ. Marco has been many paladins since winter break. They are all named Valentine, and the Dungeon Master makes certain they die with the least possible amount of dignity.
It’s painful enough when he rolls the dice, announces that a drunken orc has unspooled some Valentine’s guts for sport. Worse are the silly accidents. One Valentine tripped on a floor plank and cracked his head on a mead bucket. He died of trauma in the stable.