Short story: “Emergency”

by look i have opinions

“Emergency,” by Denis Johnson

Appeared in the New Yorker, September 16th, 1991 (subscribers can read here); collected in Jesus’ Son (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992; Harper Perennial, 1993; Picador); anthologized in The Vintage Book of American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff (1994); read for the May 2009 episode of the New Yorker Fiction Podcast by Tobias Wolff; reprinted in Narrative

3571 words

This isn’t exactly my favorite kind of story, but it’s stuck with me in the years since I first heard it on the New Yorker podcast. The painfully doomed fetal rabbits. The vision of angels over the graveyard. That line “I thought it was something else”—the kind of cautious thing you say when you know you could make a fool of yourself.