Lauren Groff, “Once” (McSweeney’s 49)
--> Lauren Groff’s “Once” is a tiny story from McSweeney’s 49. Following the theme of this number of McSweeney’s , it is modelled after Grace Paley’s “Wants.” The very title of Groff’s piece, “Once,” echoes Paley’s original title, with a suggestive respelling. “Once” is short (three pages), but expertly written, with clever metaphors and a rugged first-person voice. A woman bumps into the mother of her ex-boyfriend at the beach, a beau from years ago that she had met while working at a country club. The narrator says the woman, who is now old and feeble, is her enemy. They exchange a few words, and the mother accuses her of having ruined her son’s love life.