Short story: “How Pinkie Killed a Man”

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“How Pinkie Killed a Man,” by Adewale Maja-Pearce

Appeared in Granta 66, summer 1999 (available online to subscribers)

7 pages in the magazine

I may just be in a sentimental mood or something, but I am touched by what a good family Pinkie is to his cousin. They seem more like brothers.

The pain of the thief’s death—a man even younger than Ronnie, and probably just as much a victim of circumstances—mingles with the pain of Ronnie’s in a way that seems to render them both more meaningful and less. The narrator’s remark at the end underlines how insignificant and easily forgotten a death can be: “I generally avoid funerals and cemeteries and all the paraphernalia surrounding death.” Pinkie, at least, can remember the stranger and feel for him. That’s something of value that can survive all these seemingly pointless deaths.

This is one of those stories told more or less in first-person minor, with the main incident being related as an anecdote. Why frame it this way? Maybe because the narrator’s distance, his unwillingness to get too close, puts the slightness of these deaths in their proper perspective. We all have to do what Pinkie does and keep working, keep remembering.

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