21 October, 2021

LitStaff Picks: Our Favorite Characters Who Never Gave Up

Laura Glen Louis

From the first lines of Laura Glen Louis’ complex and lovely story, “Fur” (from her 2001 collection Talking in the Dark) the young woman who bears that strange name has a lot working against her:

“Her mother had named her Four Fragrance. When American-born Chinese made fun of her nonsense name, she changed it to Fur, something she coveted more than any perfume. She tried first Mink, then Sable, but never  Chinchilla, since it had too many syllables for Chinese.”

Fur is all about ambition. A bank teller with scuffed shoes and chipped polish, she sets her sights on a well-heeled customer who regularly makes five-figure deposits from his Hong Kong rentals. Ah Goong, as the tellers call him, Cantonese for Grandfather, is just the kind of person Fur’s looking for. A protector, a solvent, lonely widower who might find her fetching enough to invest in a beauty salon.

Which might be great, but Ah Goong is also a canny business man, dubious of the success of the proposed venture.  “Women don’t like you,” he tells her. Then adds “…what you really need is a barbershop.” She replies:

“No, no, no. No barbershop. Beauty shop. Barbers charge a fraction what hairdressers charge.” She marked off the tip of her index finger with her thumb to indicate how small a fraction she had in mind.

He tells her he’ll think about it, but Fur is in a hurry. As their ambiguous relationship proceeds, things begin to go missing in Ah Goong’s house, and as this tale of betrayal and unfilled desire unfolds, we see that Fur will never give up until she gets what she wants—even when it’s the last thing in the world that will make her happy.

-Lauren Alwan

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