It's stories like this one that make short fiction so frustrating to me.... Gorgeous writer (of course, it is Miriam Toews, after all), funny and quirky observations, but absolutely no story arc. I don't expect a Da Vinci Code-packed plot or anything in a couple thousand words. But seriously -- what is the point of this story?
The Geist piece highlights why Naomi K. Lewis's work is so good in Cricket in a Fist. The book is a novel, but it wasn't developed that way. Lewis wrote each chapter as a short story for her university creative writing courses, and so each tale reads as a rather separate piece. Still, she manages to apply plot to her chapters, which makes them all the more readable.
(I love Lewis's prose -- I must admit I am not yet finished her book, but I love her way with words. Thought I'd share this wee excerpt: "Esther looked up from her cards as though surprised to find herself in such an unlikely setting. She waved her hand, seven of spades fluttering. 'Three generations and not a man to be seen. All gone. Like this.' A butterfly had left Ginny's basil to flutter past the railing. Addressing Ginny's bulge, she concluded, 'Such a family you'll be born into.' Ginny put her hand protectively over her middle." p. 53)
Totally off-topic and pointing to another link to Geist, I offer this to make you giggle.