From Our Staff | September 19, 2008

The 1995 Editor’s Prize winner, “The Incredible Appearing Man” by Deborah Galyan, went on to appear in the 1996 edition of Best American Short Stories, and is one of my favorites.  The story opens with the narrator being visited by a man posing as a plumber.  “His panama hat is an odd touch, shadowing dark glasses.  A blue work shirt and jeans.  Cowboy boots, very tooled.  But the grin is center stage.”  He returns as a radon inspector.  Later, he will be a tree trimmer.  The sexual tension is palpable.  There is a long and hidden history between these two, seventeen years of visits from the Incredible Appearing Man, during which time the narrator marries another man and has a son.  Her marriage is healthy and happy, her husband, kind. The Man, on the other hand, is music and philosophy and passion; he is gone for years at a time and reappears like a spirit sent to lure her back to their origin.  He is her dream and her husband is her life.  The great success of the story lies in the way Galyan captures the compromise that is often inherent in love lived.  Read more at