Short Story Friday: Sign of the Gun by P.D. Mallamo

This story is for the fans of modern, gritty literary fiction. If you aren’t one, then skip it because next week we’ll start a run of stories by people connected to AMV. Submissions continue to come in — we’re up to 25 total — but if you have something good, please don’t hesitate to toss it in to the spreadsheet. The form is below.

But I do it a disservice by using terms like gritty and literary. It’s a good story. The Mormon-ness is used well and used thoroughly. If you like Cormac McCarthy or Flannery O’Connor (or extrapolate from those two names to get to your favorite authors if possible), then you should give it a try.

Title: Sign of the Gun

Author: P.D. Mallamo

Publication Info: Granta Online, April 28, 2008

Submitted by: Theric Jepson

Why?: “This was the first story published as part of GRANTA’s New Voices series. Mallamo who is a Mormon* from Arizona and attended BYU which, he says, ‘In cultural terms…was a lot like going to school overseas and having to learn a new language, and as such was one of the great experiences of my life’—–

This story is heavy on the Mormonism and an email to myself reminding me to read it has been staring at me since mid-April 2008. I may never actually read it if you don’t pick it, William, and I really want to.”

Content Warning: Some violence and drug references. Oddly enough, there’s no profanity.


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* Corrected 5/15: Th has found a source that suggest that Mallamo is Mormon.

13 thoughts on “Short Story Friday: Sign of the Gun by P.D. Mallamo”

  1. .

    I’m excited to sit down and finally read this this weekend. Up front though I want to make one correction. In another forum (or perhaps in the comments on another post here at AMV) I was informed that Mallamo is in fact Mormon. Sorry for the misinformation.

  2. Oh, right. I should have caught that. I do read every comment that is posted to AMV — I just don’t necessarily retain everything that gets said.

  3. .

    One interesting thing is that although I wouldn’t call it profanity laden I would have marked it more than your did. I wonder how we decide which things bother us (not that I was bothered, but I would probably have mentioned it to others). Is it the specific words used? Their frequency? Their existence at all? Even without the drugs and violence, I couldn’t give this story to my sister. Anyway. Illustrates the problems of ranking and warnings and sortings.

    One thing I liked was how we only saw the Mormon character through Joshua’s pov (the whole story was his pov except for the slip over the newspaper). The way he mentioned the garment for instance.

    Something else I liked was how it looked at the ways strangers can share secrets that otherwise stay hidden. Why is that?

    The present tense took me a while to get used to though…..

  4. Yeah, it’s weird how that works. I didn’t go through and try and do a count or anything. I suppose it was more an overall impressions in relation to what one might expect from such a story. And I tend to be able to filter out profanity in text much more than in film/TV — which is why I have to be careful about what I watch. Otherwise I go around talking like a NY gangster of a valley girl or whatever in my head.

    Hmmm. I never thought about it like that. With authors who have a strong voice, I tend to think in their syntax and vocabulary. Their style and overall philosophical bent. Whereas with film/TV/drama the echoes that stay with me are more the voices of the individual characters.

  5. This was my favorite short story thus far, really reminds me of McCarthy but thats a good thing. I was taken in by the present tense, for me it just worked.

    And Hemingway tops Joyce anytime.

  6. It was different. The little sprinkling of footnotes at the bottom of each page threatened to tear me out of the story itself. I would think it would be a tad more disturbing to some readers; because issues of doubt and hypocrisy in the Church can be harsher to many than the violence out in the middle of nowhere like in ‘Sign of the Gun’

    I definetly liked ‘Sign of the Gun’ better because I was intrigued by the characters. I can’t say I care much about a guy who resonates as much doubt and despair as the put upon son of someone high in the church heirarchy, someone who married to please his mother. Perhaps its simply I can’t relate and I really don’t want to.

    Issues of doubt are real and I think essantial to good writing involving the church in multiple facets but I wanna see something resolved one way or the other, good or bad. And I totally admit I don’t think I would want to read more about this character in particular.

    But I still want to read more P. D. Mallamo. I think he’s got great style and I’ll devour anything more I can find of his.

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