Univ. of Georgia Press
“Bread” is from Karin Lin-Greenberg’s debut story collection, FAULTY PREDICATIONS (University of Georgia Press, 2014), which won the 2013 Flannery O’Connor Award in Short Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in literary journals including The Antioch Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Epoch, Five Chapters, Kenyon Review Online, and North American Review. She lives in upstate New York.
Carol Haggas, writing in Booklist, said: “The 10 luminous stories in Lin-Greenberg’s masterful collection are united by her examination of the various and devious ways people try to put things into perspective.”
Lin-Greenberg said this about the origin of her story: In 2000, I lived in Philadelphia and I kept seeing an intriguing story on the news. There was a man who was going to local grocery stores and squeezing loaves of bread and crumbling cookies. This had been going on for three years, and he’d damaged more than $8,000 worth of baked goods. Cookie and bread distributors initially thought their competitors had sent someone out to destroy baked goods. Suspicious, one company installed a surveillance camera in the cookie aisle of a local supermarket to try to catch the squeezer/crumbler. Eventually, they were able to record video of the man who’d gone on these destructive sprees; he turned out to be thirty-seven years old.
I just couldn’t get the idea of bread-squeezing out of my mind, and I knew I wanted to use it in some way in fiction. I wasn’t interested in finding out more about the man who’d done this, and instead thought about a fictional character driven to do this and, more importantly, why. Sure, the act of destroying baked goods is interesting, but I think what’s more compelling is the motivation. So I came up with a character–someone much younger than the actual baked goods destroyer.
I decided the bread squeezer couldn’t be the narrator of the story since he was too single-minded, so the narrator is his girlfriend. She sees that what he’s doing is wrong, yet she’s also able to understand his actions. And, ultimately, after he’s caught, his actions change the way she thinks and acts each time she’s in the bread aisle of the supermarket.