Peter Grandbois is the author of The Gravedigger, and the translator of San Juan: Memoir of a City.

The Gravedigger was chosen for the “Original Voices” series by Borders, and the “Discover Great New Writers” series by Barnes and Noble, and was recently optioned for film. Grandbois’s essays and short fiction have appeared in such magazines as Boulevard, Post Road, Word Riot, and The Writer’s Chronicle, among others, and received an honorable mention for the 2007 Pushcart Prize. He was nominated for a Pen Translation Award for his translation of San Juan: Memoir of a City. He serves as associate editor for Narrative magazine and is a professor of creative writing and contemporary literature at California State University in Sacramento.


posted Apr 27, 2010

He starts with the mirror in the entranceway, beginning at the top and working his way down, stealing glances at himself as he works. Next, the entertainment center in the living room, dusting from left to right, then right to left. He uses only a damp cloth; the smell of sprays makes him sick. When he reaches the wall of bookcases, he is thankful for his glasses, though he wishes he had goggles. The dust still falls in his eyes.

He squints, rubs them against the sting, then continues on. He dusts naked. Once, his wife caught him, and he told her he couldn’t stand to get his clothes dirty.

When the rag is black, he throws it on the pile of towels in the laundry room and gets another. At first he hated the dust on his skin.

Lately, he’s taken to dusting vigorously to shake more on him. He feels it clinging to his hair, his shoulders and chest.

Sometimes he stops and plays with himself. When he’s finished, he resumes dusting. First the upstairs, then the downstairs, saving the master bedroom for last. He runs the rag over his dresser, then, carefully, over his wife’s. He lingers on each drawer, stops to inspect each knob. Then the bed. With the rag, he caresses the four corner posts, in the end getting down on his knees.

When he’s done, he enters the master bath, turns the shower on hot, letting the steam fill the room and cloud the mirror. His eyes still sting.