“I, Row-Boat” was so enjoyable, it reminded me to look for more from Cory Doctorow, and I went all the way back to his first professional sale, “Craphound.” This story is available in a variety of formats, from hard-copy to podcast, and they all start the same:
Craphound had wicked yard-sale karma, for a rotten, filthy alien bastard.
The narrator, Jerry, is just as eponymous as his alien friend and rival. They are true lovers of the wonderful crap you can find in yard sales, second-hand stores, and best of all, volunteer fire department’s ladies auxiliary rummage sales. As they spar and find yet more craphounds, the story of full of detail, from listening to Bogey phone in his performance for the radio play of the African Queen (I’ve heard it; it’s sad.) to the trunk filled with cowboy memorabilia that nearly ruins their friendship. Of course, we all know this isn’t crap at all but cultural treasures from our past. Or something like that.
One thing I noticed about the telling of the story is I found it a bit of a slow start, not really coming alive until Jerry and Craphound find the magical goods inside the “cowboy trunk.” The trunk is only briefly mentioned in the first paragraph, leaving you wondering what it is, as the story drives along through the scene-setting and the rummage sale. You’re a couple pages in when you get that first payoff of seeing the trunk open.
After that, just enjoy the ride, pardner.