Corinth Stands Behind the Counter, Just Beyond Lloyd's Reach

Jennifer Springsteen’s “Corinth Behind the Counter” opens with a scoop of egg salad transferred on to a piece of toast, then assembled and passed on to Lloyd, your prototypical ’50s lunch counter gourmand.

The bygone era of the drugstore lunch counter is captured perfectly in this story, and that atmosphere in turn is perfect for conveying the frustrated relationship between Lloyd and Corinth, his lunch-counter crush.

Did I say frustrated? But that implies something never stated in the story. It’s testament to Springsteen’s ability to tap into the power of understatement that we can read this story and fully get the psychology of Lloyd, some of which is achieved just by discussing his understanding of the perfectly made egg- or tuna-salad sandwich.

Other things happen in this story. Corinth’s mother dies and she is forced to leave the lunch counter in the hands of her less-than-capable sister, leading to the central drama of the story: Lloyd’s angst.

And if you get nothing else from the story, it should inspire you to appreciate an American classic, as in the case of this reader:

I liked Jennifer Springsteen's "Corinth Behind the Counter" so much, I got right up and made egg salad sandwiches. Enjoy.
Congratulations to Jennifer Springsteen for being awarded third prize in the Wordstock 2007 Short Fiction Competition. Watch this space for the prize winners and finalists for 2008.

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