“Zone of Quiet” by Ring Lardner
From HAIRCUT & OTHER STORIES by Ring Lardner, published in 1991. Short story originally published in the 1920s.
To me, Ring Lardner is one of the best short stories writers of the 20th Century. If you haven’t read the short story “Haircut”, do yourself a favor. Like the best of Flannery O’Connor or Sherwood Anderson, he has an incredible amount of control over the form, without being complicating. But as compared to O’Connor or Anderson, he does it with so much humor that it is appears to be deceptively easy.
Hell, Lardner had the balls to name one of his short story collections “How To Write Short Stories (with Samples).” No advice, just stories.
In “Zone of Quiet”, he uses a common technique in his stories: the character telling their story over a period of time. In this case, it’s a nurse telling her invalid patient about her love life and nights on the town. Funny and revealing, it’s just a treat of a read.
And at almost one hundred years old, the fact that the humor still works is a credit to the writing. Like Pete Seeger said, any fool can make something complex; it takes a real genius to make something simple.