Short Story – Hunters in the Snow by Tobias Wolff
A noir-ish tale with twists and turns driven by dialogue and deceptions. For me, the careful dialogue of the three characters makes this story dynamic by clearly defining the three different personalities, each one harboring their own secrets and deceptions which form the core of their inner motivations. Tub, being teased for being fat, harbors perhaps the most surprising secret, only revealed at the end of the story. Frank’s deception, his obsession with a fifteen year old babysitter, keeps him inside his inner monologue where he doesn’t pay attention to his external surroundings. But it’s Kenny’s relatively minor deception, acted out as a joke in poor taste that leads to perhaps lethal consequences. Kenny teases Tub and appears ready to leave Tub behind which offends Tub and creates further misunderstanding. While Kenny’s deception, the most insignificant by itself, eventually causes the greatest repercussions among the three. The tight dialogue brings to life the darkly comic nature of this story which never quite develops the way a reader might expect.
Wolff is superb at creating complex scenes with dialogue and actions which appear simple at first reveal their true depth later, after the reader discovers relevant background context.