You, Me, and the Lion Tamer
A lovesick clown tries to explain his part in an unlikely love triangle, but is the tightrope walker of his dreams even listening? In a world where death-defying feats happen every night, the biggest dangers may be those caused by a broken heart. Equal parts slapstick and unrequited love, this story was selected by Richard Russo for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 2010.
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One of the best short stories I've read, and I've read a lot of them. Mathews takes a rather trite setting and story, a lovesick clown bemoaning his unrequited love for a pretty and daring trapeze artist with predictable outcome. But the way he tells his minor tragicomedy is unparalleled. You read this story for the terrific and poetic prose, some of the most moving I've seen in a long time.