What’s The Wedding Gig all about?:
This story is told from the point of view of a cornet player in the Roaring Twenties in prohibition America. His band are asked to play what will become one of the strangest gigs of their lives.
What did I think?:
I’ve been discovering a lot since I started my Short Stories Challenge a couple of years ago, mainly that writers I love (like Mr Stephen King) are not perfect. Not every story is going to captivate, amuse or move me and sometimes I have to swallow that bitter pill of disappointment and hope that the next story in the collection will be better. The Wedding Gig was one of those stories for me unfortunately. It is set in the Jazz Age in 1920’s America and our narrator is a cornet player in a band who is telling us about the strangest gig the band ever played.
Our narrator is approached by a small time criminal called Mike Scollay in a speakeasy where his band are playing a set. He is well aware of Mike’s reputation but is surprised when he asks him if his band would play an event very dear to his heart – his sister’s wedding. He is prepared to give them two hundred dollars for the gig, a lot of money in those days and our narrator is curious as to why he is offering that much. There are two reasons, the first is that a man Mike refers to as “the Greek,” has been trying to get rid of him and there may be trouble at the event and the second reason is that his sister is a rather large lady and he wants our narrators band to play so loud that it may muffle any giggles that could arise in the crowd.
So the band play, trouble does arise and chaos ensues. It’s a decent enough read but I couldn’t help but think where on earth was he going with all of this? It makes quite uncomfortable reading at times as he touches fairly lightly on racism and there’s a bit of gang violence. Even though these are quite obviously abhorrent behaviours, the thing that made me most uncomfortable was the depiction of Mike’s sister, Maureen (which was perhaps the point of the story?).
“And had Scollay said she was fat? Brother, that was like saying you could buy a few things in Macy’s. She was a human dinosaur – three hundred and fifty pounds if she was one. It had all gone to her bosom and hips and butt and thighs, like it usually does on fat girls, making what should be sexy grotesque and frightening instead. Some fat girls have pathetically pretty faces, but Scollay’s sis didn’t even have that. Her eyes were too close together, her mouth was too big, and she had jug-ears. Then there were the freckles. Even thin she would have been ugly enough to stop a clock – hell, a whole show-window of them.”
It probably doesn’t help matters that her husband to be is as skinny as a rake so next to him she does appear larger in comparison. If King’s vision was to get the reader to feel horribly sorry for Maureen, he certainly did his job in that respect! It takes a bit of a turn towards the end which was slightly unexpected but felt entirely implausible so I had a bit of trouble connecting with it in the way in which I perhaps should have. Don’t get me wrong, some people will probably really “get” this story and I did appreciate what King was trying to do but this story just didn’t do anything for me personally.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
NEXT SHORT STORY: Corrugated Dreaming by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears