“One afternoon, a telephone wire that had hummed in the heat began to unravel, and the children playing beneath it screamed, dodged the black tendril that sprang toward the earth, and dazed parents drew back drapes, peered from windows, swung open doors, the bright braid of exposed copper scraping the sidewalk, erupting with sparks, everyone watching them flare and die, flare and die, the thrashing coil almost alive, and no one spoke, and all stood still, each child and adult, eyes reflecting a swarm of sparks, each heard a voice, crackling with static, spill into the air, surging from that severed end, driven from a distance which couldn’t be explained, coming from a common past, before a single word was learned, and the night air turned amniotic, streets extended like arteries, everyone quiet, everyone amazed, everyone certain they’d heard their name.”
~ Bernard Cooper, “Live Wire” from the collection Maps to Anywhere
When I first read Bernard Cooper several years ago, I was blown away by his stories, and I am still in awe. For one thing, they are not like any other stories I’ve ever read. His style is his own, and in my humble opinion, his genre is his own. The piece above is one story made up of one sentence, another thing I love to see—a single sentence so well written that you, the reader, get to ride it to a destination you never expected. Is it a story? Is it a poem? Does it matter?