This story, "The Dinner Party
," by Joshua Ferris in the August 11/18th New Yorker
... Ouch. It's the kind of fiction that I avoid, because it's just so uncomfortable, which of course makes it both fascinating and important. Really, some beautifully crafted storytelling here (cloaked in some uber-urban, bourgie circumstances).
Rather than big ideas and grand actions, our days are often made up of petty events, strained relations, and mismatching social maps. These would have staggering implications, that is, IF we held them up the light, and didn't count on them being washed away in the continual flow of the present. We like to complain, and we find ways of making our stupid grievances playful without weighing the consequences. Ferris throws that equation into the old atom smasher with powerful results.
The story also reminds me that most of us mere mortals have "annoying" flaws. A mouth that puckers too much, a voice that grates, a selfish streak, bad breath, a fake laugh, etc. This is one reason we have celebrities - people who appear to have most of the annoying bugs worked out of their system.
Thanks Sarah for putting this under my nose, and reminding me how much I love short stories. You scared the bejeezus out of me with this one...