Fat Books & Thin Women

Story Sundays: Kathy Anderson’s “You are the Bad Smell”

Story Sundays is a weekly feature at Fat Books & Thin Women. Always short stories, always ones available online for free.

Kathy Anderson’s “You are the Bad Smell” is one of those stories that has something funny about it not in its story or its dialogue but in some underlying place – like the structure of the story is funny, if such a thing is possible. “You are the Bad Smell” is about a real estate agent who has taken a lesbian couple on over seventy home visits. She’s a successful agent and has made a particular success of herself in the lesbian market (this is one of the funny parts – her pride at having done so well in this club despite not being a member), but these clients evade her and her attempts to evade them in turn fail. She takes them on visit after visit and the visits and the homes themselves begin to reveal something of the couple’s relationship: where it is, where it will go, what they think a house will do for it. The way characters read relationships through the houses they possess or think of possessing is unnerving and strange but also very true – our tendency to see outside of ourselves what we see inside.

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