“Chicxulub” by T. Coraghessan Boyle
I had no idea what “Chicxulub” referred to before reading this short story. As I learned, a six-mile-wide asteroid or comet slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, contributing to the dinosaurs’ extinction and forming what is now known as the Chicxulub crater. In this amazing story, Boyle’s narrator alternated between musing about meteors and describing a disaster that is occurring in the life of his family. This structure is really what made the story stand out for me.
The thing that disturbs me about Chicxulub, aside from the fact that it erased the dinosaurs and wrought catastrophic and irreversible change, is the deeper implication that we, and all our works and worries and attachments, are so utterly inconsequential.
The story begins with the narrator’s daughter walking down a highway alone at night in the rain. Between the situation and the father’s digressions on life-ending meteor impacts, the reader expects the worst. But Boyle made me feel the panic, the devastation, the helplessness, the frustration of the narrator and his wife.
The ending is a surprise, though. If you want to read the story, and I definitely think you should, it was published in The New Yorker on March 1, 2004 and can be found on the website, here. Thanks, Teddy Rose, for recommending this one.
John hosts Short Story Monday at The Book Mine Set. Head over there to see what he and others have been reading.